Duterte: Philippines cannot stop China moves in disputed sea

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reacts during a press conference in Manila in this March 13 file photo. (AP)
Updated 19 March 2017

Duterte: Philippines cannot stop China moves in disputed sea

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that his militarily inferior country cannot stop China’s actions in contested waters, responding to a reported plan by Beijing to construct an environmental monitoring station in a disputed shoal off the northwestern Philippines.
Duterte, however, warned that he would invoke a July 12 arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea if the Chinese “start to tinker with the entitlement,” apparently meaning when Beijing starts to tap the offshore area’s resources.
“We cannot stop China from doing his thing, the Americans were not able to stop it,” Duterte said in a news conference at the airport in southern Davao city before flying to Myanmar.
“Sir, what will I do? Declare a war against China?” he asked, without saying who he was addressing his question to. “I can, but we’ll all lose our military and policemen tomorrow, and we are a destroyed nation.”
Duterte’s remarks differed slightly from those of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which said that it was trying to verify the news reports about China’s construction plans on Scarborough Shoal and that it would refrain from commenting while doing so.
In the past, the Philippine government routinely filed protests or expressed its concern whenever China took aggressive actions to assert its sovereignty in contested territories, but Duterte did not mention any planned protest.
The top official in Sansha City, which has administered China’s island claims in the South China Sea since 2012, was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal.

The preparatory work on Scarborough and on five other islands in the Paracel island group off Vietnam were among the government’s top priorities for 2017, Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie was quoted as saying in an interview published in the paper’s Monday edition and seen online Friday in Beijing. No other details were provided.
If the construction plans on Scarborough proceed, it would be China’s first permanent structure in recent memory on a shoal that has been at the heart of a territorial dispute with China and would likely reignite concerns over Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions to cement its claims in the crucial waterway, where an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.
It will also be a defiance of last year’s ruling by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague that invalidated China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea on historical grounds.
Chinese government ships took control of Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels. China then blocked Filipinos from fishing in the shoal, which has a vast, coral-encircled lagoon that also serves as a storm shelter for Asian fishermen.
The Philippines brought its disputes with China to international arbitration the following year, but China ignored the complaint and the tribunal’s ruling, which found Beijing to have violated the rights of Filipinos to fish at Scarborough.
After he took office in June, Duterte put his country’s territorial conflicts with China on the backburner and reached out to China in an effort to revive robust trading and seek Chinese economic aid. Contrastingly, he has lashed out at then-President Barack Obama and the US government, his country’s treaty ally, for raising alarm over his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.
Duterte met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top officials in a visit to Beijing last year but did not raise the July 12 arbitration ruling. He repeated Sunday that there would be a point in his six-year term when he would do so.
“When? When they shall start to tinker with entitlements,” he said without elaborating.
Since Duterte met with Xi, Filipinos have been allowed to fish at Scarborough and the Philippine coast guard said it has resumed patrols in the area, easing yearslong tensions in the area.

UAE builds $190m township in Kabul

Updated 27 min 24 sec ago

UAE builds $190m township in Kabul

  • Housing complex in Afghanistan will include 3,330 residential units and state-of-the-art infrastructure, amenities and power station.
  • With an estimated cost of $150 million, this is the first mega housing construction scheme built for free by a foreign country in Afghanistan since the ousting of the Taliban government in 2001.

KABUL: The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) is financing a 708 million dirham ($190 million) upscale social housing development project in Afghanistan.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed City Housing Complex in the Qasba district of Kabul will include 3,330 residential units with state-of-the-art infrastructure, amenities and other support services.The project was inaugurated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Mohammed Saif Al-Suwaidi, director general of the ADFD, over the weekend, according to a ADFD press release on Monday.

With an estimated cost of $150 million, this is the first mega housing construction scheme built for free by a foreign country in Afghanistan since the ousting of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghan officials said on Tuesday.

“The emirate has also promised to build a power substation for providing electricity for the township,” Nilofar Langar, chief spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Rural Development and Housing, told Arab News. He said that this, combined with the water filtering facility, will cost an additional $40 million.


 The ADFD director general led the UAE delegation at the opening ceremony. Other attendees included Saif Al-Shamsi, charge d’affaires at the UAE Embassy in Afghanistan; Sadat Mansoor Nader, Afghan minister of urban development and housing, as well as other Afghan government officials.

“Today is a happy day … that with the close cooperation of brotherly UAE, the people of Afghanistan witness a clear and distinct change in their lives,” President Ghani said in a statement.

He hoped there would closer ties between the private sectors of the two countries to facilitate commerce.

Ghani’s government has been trying to forge closer ties with Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where Afghans have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the past two decades.

The ADFD first started supporting development projects in Afghanistan in 1977 and has since invested 1.2 billion dirhams in 14 different projects contributing to the economic and social growth of the country. Some of the key investments were made in housing, social services, health, education, transport and industry.

The ADFD has also invested in repairing major roads and bridges in Kabul, as well as Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport.

The apartment units constructed by the ADFD are being sold by the Afghan government to its employees as part of a 20-year loan installment deal, Foreign Ministry officials told Arab News.

The exodus of hundreds of thousands of Afghans from Pakistan and Iran, with little arrangement for accommodation, has led to a spike in demand for housing in Afghanistan over recent years, the official said.


The mega housing project was inaugurated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday. Abu Dhabi Fund for Development financed the 708 million dirham ($190 million) social housing development project. The ADFD has also pledged to build a power station.