China alarmed by PHL military officials’ visit to Pagasa Island

Pag-Asa Island. (Photo by Rappler)

BEIJING, April 22 — China has lodged representations with the Philippine side following a visit by the Filipino defense and military officials in Pagasa Island, according to the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

”Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side,” Lu Kang said in a press statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry Affairs website.

Last Friday, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, along with other military officials, visited Pagasa Island, a Philippine-occupied territory that is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Lu said the move of the Philippines defense and military officials has negated the important consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

”This move runs counter to the important consensus reached between the two leadership, which is to properly deal with the South China Sea issue,” Lu said.

Lu said China is hoping that the Philippine government would continue to cherish a five-decade China-Philippines bilateral relations which rejuvenated under the leadership of President Duterte.

”We hope that the Philippine side could faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leadership, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations,” he said.

Since President Duterte’s visit in China last year, Lu said China and the Philippines have been keeping good communication to properly manage and resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

”We hope that this momentum can continue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry official said.

In media reports, Lorenza described the trip to Pagasa Island as a “normal visit within our territory”.

”We believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” the top Filipino defense official said.

Pagasa Island was occupied by the Philippines in the late 1960s and is categorized as a fifth-class municipality of Palawan province.

Lorenza has revealed a plan to set aside at least PHP1.6 billion to develop Pagasa Island and a proposal by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to build a fish port in the area. (PNA)

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