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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    20 July 2012

Philippines thanks China for dam project


Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Monday thanked China for funding a 5.3-billion-peso (US$127 million) water improvement project in Angat Dam and underscored the importance of cooperation and respect among neighbouring nations.

Aquino’s statement came even as the Philippine Palace stressed that the Philippines would not stand down and withdraw from disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“If you mean stand down our statements, I think we will maintain our sovereign rights over our Exclusive Economic Zone,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in response to China’s statement that Manila should withdraw from disputed areas because  it had no military might to defend them. “That is something we will not give up.”

Lacierda also said the country had not used its military force and had always pursued a peaceful solution to its dispute with China.

The president said the inauguration of the second phase of the Angat water utilisation and aqueduct improvement project at La Mesa Portal in Quezon City in Metro Manila would ensure the safety and integrity of the delivery of water from Angat Dam to water treatment plants in La Mesa and Balara, both in Quezon City.

China’s Export-Import Bank provided the funding through a preferential buyer loan agreement signed during the  administration of then President Gloria Arroyo. The contractor was China International Water and Electric Co.

“We thank China for the funds it provided so that this important project can be implemented,” Aquino said in his speech.

He said “strong relationships with neighbouring countries” would help the government respond to problems and needs of the Filipinos.

“We are one in the world in our advocacy: A world where each individual, each community and each country is being respected and recognised for its innate dignity,” Aquino said, apparently referring to the territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing.

Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing sat a few meters away as the President spoke. Reporters tried to interview the ambassador but she declined comment on Aquino’s speech and the grounding of the Chinese Navy warship in Philippine territory last week.

Lacierda reiterated the government’s desire for a peaceful resolution of its conflict with China. But he also made it clear that Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) was not a disputed territory because it is within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

He said that the government was still studying on whether to redeploy Philippine vessels to Panatag Shoal.

Chinese fishing vessels remained in the shoal. The Philippines pulled out its two ships in the area due to a typhoon  a month ago.

“We have always insisted on a diplomatic resolution to the incident in Scarborough and also a diplomatic resolution insofar as the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in the drafting of the code of conduct for South China Sea,” Lacierda told reporters.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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