Construction at Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the disputed Spratley Islands in the south China Sea by China Picture: EPA
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Beijing is poised to take “de facto control” of the South China Sea, the Philippines warned Sunday, but its call for a robust Southeast Asian response at a regional summit was shot down.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic body of water, but Beijing claims nearly all of it, and its increasingly strident territorial assertions have caused concern in the region and beyond.
“(China) is poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said in Kuala Lumpur a day ahead of an annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
He singled out a campaign of land reclamation on disputed reefs that has raised the spectre of permanent Chinese bases far out in the sea from which it can enforce its sovereignty…