China's weather stations in Spratlys serve military purposes – Batongbacal
MANILA, Philippines – Beijing's weather monitoring stations on the Spratly Islands should also be seen as a further development and improvement of military outposts in the features claimed by Manila, a maritime expert said.
Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute of the University of the Philippines Maritime and Maritime Law, said China's recent activities on its man-made islands are in the context of its efforts to effectively control South China Sea, which is part of China that is the westphilippine sea.
"Although they can provide public goods, this plays a minor role in their primary role as part of China's military bases, and they serve military purposes as all major military bases have their own meteorological services, their usual military operations such as takeoff to support and land planes and ships, "said Batongbacal on Facebook.
Operation of weather monitoring stations on the three Spratly Islands – Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs – is also part of Beijing's long-term efforts to assert rights and exercise sovereignty in the contested waterway.
"The acceptance of these" public goods "could be understood as an endorsement of China's civilian management and control of this marine region," he added.
No need to check
In a press conference on Monday, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government has not yet received confirmation of China's operation of weather stations on the Spratly Islands.
The spokesman for Malacañang said that despite the announcement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, this was "only" news.
"There is no reason to doubt and" check "this information as this is an official announcement from the MOFA spokesman," Batongbacal said.
Elmer Cato, foreign affairs spokesman, said the DFA is coordinating with relevant government agencies and the Philippine Embassy in Beijing to review the reports.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang confirmed this in a November 1 press conference. He said the projects are geared to "monitoring maritime, hydrological, meteorological and air quality conditions and providing such services as sea alerting and forecasting, tsunami alerting, weather forecasting, air quality prediction, and disaster prevention and mitigation."
Lu added that the projects would provide more "public services" to the countries of the region and ensure the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
"As a responsible large country, China will continue to deliver on its commitments and commitments with concrete measures and make due contributions to the safety of the South China Sea and to the benefit of the people of the region," said Lu.
Protest against China's actions
Batongbacal has called on the Philippine government to protest China's establishment of such facilities, which also play a role in military bases, although they were originally intended to "create public goods."
"The Philippines should protest this latest action in China as it is definitely part of the larger effort to assert China's sovereignty / rights claim in the long term and unilaterally enforce its position vis-à-vis other riparian states," Batongbacal said.
Previously, Panelo said that the DFA would definitely take the necessary diplomatic action once the Philippine government confirms the reported operation of weather monitoring facilities in the Spratlys.
Following Malacañang's testimony, the FDFA also said that he would "take appropriate action when these reports are validated".