Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (DFA photo)

MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Friday said he would “strongly recommend” terminating local contracts with any Chinese companies involved in the reclamations in the South China Sea, days after the United States slapped sanctions against firms backing Beijing in advancing its claims in the region.

In an interview over CNN Philippines, Locsin said he was not aware whether any of these enterprises had a contract in the Philippines, but should he find out they are doing business with Manila, he “would strongly recommend we terminate that relationship with them”.

“If they were in any way involved in the reclamation, then it becomes consistent on our part to terminate any contract with them. Of course, since the contract was already entered into, they could sue us back… I’m very careful about validating anything China does by inaction,” he said.

Washington this week imposed sanctions against China state-owned enterprises and visa restrictions on individuals behind the dredging and militarization of the disputed features in the South China Sea.

Among those covered are subsidiaries of the state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), which the US accused of leading the “destructive dredging of the PRC’s South China Sea outposts”.

In a press readout dated August 26, State Secretary Michael Pompeo claimed that CCCC “have engaged in corruption, predatory financing, environmental destruction, and other abuses across the world” and that China should not be allowed to use it and other companies as “weapons to impose an expansionist agenda”.

CCCC, one of the leading contractors in Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, is also part of a consortium that bagged the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) project in Cavite.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan have overlapping claims over the South China Sea with Beijing, which has built artificial islands in the contested waters.

During the 36th Asean Summit last June 2020, the 10-member regional bloc has also expressed concerns on the land reclamations and other activities in the area, saying these have “eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions” and may even “undermine peace, security, and stability in the region”. (PNA)

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