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China Calls Philippines' Occupation of Disputed Island 'Futile and Illegal'

Sputnik News

22:27 12.05.2015(updated 01:15 13.05.2015)

One day after a Philippines general reaffirmed his country's claim on a disputed island in the South China Sea, vowing to defend it from foreign aggression, China dismissed the occupation as 'futile and illegal.'

General Gregorio Pio Catapang, accompanied by journalists and other military officials, said he visited Pag-asa island Monday to establish that it is part of western Palawan province and "therefore Pag-asa is a territory of the Republic of the Philippines."

The island's international name is Thitu and in China it is called Zhongye.

With an eye toward China, General Catapang vowed to defend it and other Philippine-claimed islands in the area.

'According to our constitution these are our regime of islands and we have to protect our regime of islands, in as much as they form our territory and sovereignty,' he said.

On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry accused the Philippines of endangering international law.

'China has made clear on many occasions that it opposes the Philippines' futile and illegal occupation,' said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. 'The reality of the situation has again proven the Philippines to be a rule-violator and a troublemaker.'

China has done massive reclamation work on at least seven Philippine-claimed reefs in the Spratly archipelago, creating artificial islands out of them.

Last month, China put forward a detailed defense of its reclamation work, saying the new islands would provide civilian services including weather forecasting and search and rescue facilities that would benefit other countries.

China's actions in the region have made Philippines-controlled islands vulnerable, Philippine military officials and security experts said on Tuesday.

The Philippine military's top priority was to build a naval base on the country's western coastline opposite the Spratlys, although the plans have been delayed by funding, the Philippine armed forces chief told Reuters.

Major Ferdinand Atos, the most senior military officer on Thitu, was worried about the rapid Chinese reclamation.

'We are concerned with the creeping invasion,' he said, 'Two years ago they were not there, now you see them getting closer.'

China has warned Filipino military ships and planes in the area, and has even sprayed water on Filipino fishing boats to drive them away from Philippines-claimed Panata island, Atos said.


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