People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian has questioned China’s quest for a peaceful rise, saying its continuing reclamation activities in the contested West Philippine Sea shows its two-faced policy in managing foreign relations with its neighbors.
Gatchalian, a majority member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the remark as a 1,000-meter buoy with Chinese markings allegedly used for dredging has been recovered by fishermen about three miles off Iba in Zambales.
The Valenzuela City congressman has already filed last year House Resolution No. 2059, which directs the committees on foreign affairs and on national defense to jointly probe what have been done by concerned authorities on China’s aggressive reclamation on the disputed area.
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“This creeping invasion of China in the West Philippine Sea might create a domino effect. It is not far-fetched that we may wake up one morning to find out that even Pag-asa island has fallen into Chinese hands,” Gatchalian said.
He said that to further legitimize their claim to several islands in the West Philippine Sea, the Chinese government has opened these islands to domestic tourism for their citizens to see for themselves how China has transformed these islands into tourist destinations.
“Of course, making Chinese-occupied islands as tourist destinations is but a cover to their primary military agenda of transforming the West Philippine Sea a ‘Chinese lake’ where they can do whatever they want to the detriment of other claimant-countries like the Philippines,” Gatchalian explained.
The lawmaker maintained that the ongoing reclamation activities by China in the Philippines’ very own territory “threaten to disturb the status quo and the peace in the region.”
He also challenged the economic giant’s “peaceful rise” policy and asked China to consider working toward development without disrupting the region’s stability and without depriving its neighbors’ right to its natural resources.
“China can pursue its goal of becoming a world power without becoming a bully,” Gatchalian said. “Staying committed to the goal of ‘peaceful development’ means not depriving other countries’ patrimony and undermining the peace and order in the region.”
“Just because China has the might and the money does not mean it has to use them to pursue its own selfish interest without consideration for its smaller neighbors who decided to stick to diplomacy to settle the territorial dispute,” Gatchalian added.
With increasing military might supported by its economic wealth, China said it will do everything to keep its “core interests,” in conflict with its goal of a peaceful rise.
Gatchalian said: “This two-faced policy of China shows how it easily disregard other smaller nations’ welfare in favor of its own interests under the pretense of a peaceful rise. This is an example of power being abused when placed in the wrong hands. (R. Burgos)