June 24, 2017, 3:05 am
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Malacañang: Kagitingan Reef in agenda of China-PH talks

PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Ernesto Abella yesterday said China’s installation of rocket launchers in a disputed reef in the South China Sea would be “touched” when representatives from Manila and Beijing start meeting today about the territorial dispute.

“I think that will be covered by the bilateral consultative mechanism,” Abella said referring to the rocket launchers that were installed by China at the Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) supposedly to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, as reported by the Chinese newspaper Defense Times.

Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

The report did not say when the defense system was installed but China’s installation of a weapon systems at the Fiery Reef and six other reefs was first reported in December last year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a Washington-based think tank.

Abella said grants being provided by China to the Philippines should not affect the country’s stand on the maritime dispute. He said the economic relationship of the Philippines and China is separate from the territorial dispute.

Communications Secretary Marin Andanar said during President Duterte’s trip to Beijing last week, the Philippines secured close to P4 billion worth of assistance. He was referring to a 500-million yuan grant for the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge across the Pasig River in Metro Manila. 
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