I am talking of course about Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that the defense department will file a diplomatic protest against China if it can be established that there is indeed militarization over the Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) in the South China Sea (SCS).
Lorenzana should not have acted so naïve even if the Chinese government had promised other claimant nations not to militarize their man-made islands.
Note that the Kagitingan Reef is also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.
Lorenzana, by virtue of his position, should be the first one to know that when China took over the reef and made it into a huge island, that it was not for the purpose of making it a tourist destination.
Like any other Chinese-fortified reclaimed islands in the SCS, the Kagitingan Reef has been transformed into a Chinese military base, which features a 3,125-meter runway for H-6K strategic bombers and equip with a hospital and military facilities, including early warning radars and close-proximity weapons systems. According to reports, over 200 Chinese soldiers are stationed on the artificial island.
Instead of showing total obeisance to China it would have been apt if Lorenzana just been forthright in saying that the protest was a matter of formality it being a threat to peace and security.
What makes the threat real is because the Kagitingan Reef is one of the islands subject to the arbitral tribunal decision that it is within the Philippine economic zone.
But what makes the diplomatic protest useless just the same is China’s disrespect and disregard for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and more so for the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), that area of coastal water and seabed within a certain distance of a country’s coastline, to which the country claims exclusive rights for fishing, drilling, and other economic activities.
The fact that China ‘walk the talk’, after claiming that practically the whole of SCS is theirs and built fortified bases out of the protruding reefs, and not even the greatest nation on Earth, the USA, could do anything about it, makes the diplomatic protest not only useless but absurd as well.