Home News The Philippines’ Plans to Develop Islands in the South China Sea

The Philippines’ Plans to Develop Islands in the South China Sea

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The Philippines recently announced its intention to develop islands in the South China Sea that it considers part of its territory. This move is aimed at making these islands more habitable for troops stationed in the area. The plans come at a time of heightened tensions between the Philippines and China, both of whom claim territory in the South China Sea. Accusations of aggressive behavior in the strategic waterway have been exchanged between the two nations. In addition to the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin, the Philippines occupies eight other features in the South China Sea and asserts its exclusive economic zone rights over them.

“We’d like to improve all the nine, especially the islands we are occupying,” stated Romeo Brawner, Manila’s military chief, after attending a command conference led by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the military headquarters. The islands that the Philippines aims to develop include Thitu island, which is the largest and most strategically important in the South China Sea. Locally known as Pag-asa, Thitu lies approximately 300 miles (480 km) west of the Philippine province of Palawan.

One of the key priorities for the military is to provide better living conditions for troops stationed on these islands. As part of this effort, a desalination machine will be brought in to ensure a sustainable supply of drinking water for those living aboard a warship deliberately grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty claim.

Apart from the Philippines and China, several other nations have competing claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea. These nations include Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The South China Sea serves as a vital conduit for goods valued at over $3 trillion annually.

The Philippines’ military is also undertaking modernization plans to strengthen its defense capabilities in the South China Sea. This includes the acquisition of more ships, radars, and aircraft. The shift in focus from internal defense to territorial defense is a strategic move by the Philippines as it seeks to secure its claims in the region.

These plans are part of the Philippines’ efforts to assert its sovereignty and protect its interests in the South China Sea. As tensions continue to rise in the region, the development of these islands and the strengthening of military capabilities will play a crucial role in safeguarding the Philippines’ territorial claims.

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