The Philippines recently revealed how China started stepping up efforts in the South China Sea region, emphasizing that its activities are cause for grave concern. However, despite the opposition from a number of countries, China is expected to push its ambitions further, laying down the maritime code discussion during the ASEAN talks. Can China succeed in conquering the disputed region?
Philippines Goes After China
The Philippines’ defense ministry revealed images on Wednesday showing Chinese boats navigating near the disputed shoal in the South China Sea region. The images were released hours prior to the start of the summit in Laos where Southeast Asian nations are due to talk.
According to Reuters, the timing of the release was not explained. Thes photos were released two days after Manila said it was concerned gravely about the increasing number of Chinese vessels around the Scarborough Shoal. The country also called on China’s ambassador for an explanation.
The report noted that a Philippine official confirmed that the photographs, along with the map, were released following instructions from the defense minister consequently attending the summit. Journalists, majority of who are in Laos for the summit, received the ten images via email.
“We won in the arbitral court, but we could not enforce it, how can we explain that to our own fishermen?” explained the official who refused to be identified.
“So, we wanted to talk to China and resolve the issue, but the situation like this is making it more difficult. The president is asking what is China’s intentions in the area?”
Beijing Has Other Plans
Another report from the South China Morning Post claims that China will be pushing for the endorsement of a system to avoid potential maritime clashes during the summit. Likewise, the report noted that regional leaders will find a way to address the dispute in the South China Sea. Premier Li Keqiang reportedly planned to meet senior Laotian officials but there were no indications he will meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The president’s position has always been clear that he hoped for a soft landing,” said Ernesto Abella, Duterte’s spokesman.
“There will be time to speak on certain matters, but as it is, it’s basically maintaining the diplomatic relationship.”