Malacañang Palace said today that the Philippines would have to rely on good faith that China would not use its largest dredging vessel to build on disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reports.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte recognizes the principle of good faith in international relations.
“China has told the President they do not intend to reclaim Scarborough and we leave it at that. We need to rely on good faith because otherwise there would be no predictability in international relations,” he said.
Last March, Duterte announced that China gave its word not to build on the disputed Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.
The President said that the assurance was made out of deference to the warming relationship between the Philippines and China.
These latest comments were issued amid concerns that China may use its newly-launched cutter suction dredger Tiankun (Tian Kun Hao), dubbed by its designer as a ‘magic island-maker’, to create artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The giant dredger, which measures 140 meters long and 28 meters wide, is reported to be capable of dredging up to 6,000 cubic meters an hour and can dig as deep as 35 meters under the sea floor.
It is the most powerful vessel of its type in Asia.