DFA to verify Chinese weather station construction in SCS

MANILAThe Philippine government "will take the appropriate action" if the reported establishment of weather observation stations in the South China Sea by Beijing has been verified, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

In a statement sent through Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato, the agency said it monitored news reports, quoting officials of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that weather observation stations have been established on three features in the West Philippine Sea.

"The Department is coordinating with concerned agencies of the Philippine government and with the Philippine embassy in Beijing to verify the reported establishment of these facilities," it said.

"The Department will take the appropriate action should these reports be validated," it ended.

On November 1, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said: "China has begun operating a maritime observation center, a meteorological observatory and a national environmental and air quality monitoring station on reefs of the Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands)."

In a transcript posted at the ministry's website, Lu said: "these projects are designed to observe the maritime, hydrological, meteorological conditions and air qualities and provide such services as maritime warning and forecast, tsunami alert, weather forecast, air quality forecast and disaster prevention and relief."

He also noted that "China's constructions on the reefs and islands" in the area "aim to improve civil services and provide public goods and services to countries in this region."

The official, however, did not cite what specific locations these observation centers were built.

The Philippines and other littoral countries, as well as China who imposes its nine-dash line in the South China Sea, share overlapping territorial claims in the strategic waters.

In 2016, a Hague-based ruling nullified China's invisible dots within the region claiming over 80 percent of the waters.

Philippine-Chinese relations have improved after President Rodrigo Duterte decided to temporarily shelve the arbitration court's decision to give way to friendly and peaceful dialogues aimed at resolving both contentious and non-contentious issues. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency