President Rodrigo Duterte will raise issues on the South China Sea, including China’s installation of a weather monitoring system on some artificial islands, during the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, a Foreign Affairs official said Friday.
“We are quite sure that the South China Sea would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the summit,” said DFA Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang Friday morning.
Other issues include infrastructure development, economic integration and cooperation, connectivity, counter-terrorism, illegal drugs, disaster management, and climate change, Mahilum-West said.
The 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore will be the second and last summit for 2018.
Mahilum-West also said the 10 ASEAN leaders will hold their own meetings with leaders from dialogue partners in the Plus One summit format.
“They’re going to meet individually with Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States,” she said.
Under the ASEAN Plus Three Summit, the Asean leaders will meet with those from China, Japan and South Korea. In the East Asia summit, the ASEAN 10 will engage with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.
Last week, the South China Morning Post reported that Beijing has started the operations of a maritime observation center, a meteorological observatory, a national environmental and an air quality morning station in artificial islands in the South China Sea.
“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,” SCMP quoted Chinse Foreign Ministry official Lu Kang in a press conference.
Malacañang declined to comment on the new construction in the disputed waters.
“The government will undertake appropriate actions once these reports are properly validated,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.
A security expert said the weather stations could also be used for military purposes.
Rommel Banlaoi told a GMA-7 news program that the Chinese were proud of their weather facilities, but like other structures China has built on disputed land, they can have dual purposes—for private commercial use and for military use.