The Philippine government has finally awarded a $11 billion airport project to a multinational consortium, which had previously been awarded to a Chinese state-owned company.
On September 14, the provincial government of Cavite, south of the Philippine capital Manila, decided to award the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) construction project to a consortium from the Philippines, South Korea, and Europe.
The new development is designed to relieve the congested international airport in the Philippine capital. It will create an estimated 50,000 jobs.
The design calls for two runways with a capacity of 75 million passengers per year, expandable to four runways to handle up to 130 million passengers per year, according to the consortium’s proposal.
Initially, the investment was given to MacroAsia Group and the state-owned China Communications Construction Company Ltd., (CCCC), in 2019.
But the deal was terminated in January 2021 after the group failed to submit post-qualification documents, despite the Cavite government extending deadlines four times, Rappler reported on September 15.
In addition, the U.S. imposed sanctions in 2020 on CCCC, among 24 other Chinese state-owned companies, for helping the Chinese military build and militarize internationally. The U.S. condemned the artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The influence of the Chinese Communist Party could pose a threat to national security. The two countries are in conflict over the disputed sovereignty of the Spratly Islands in the busy maritime corridor of the South China Sea. The CCP intends to completely dominate the area.
Also, the new development is located opposite a former U.S. naval base, which houses the Philippine Fleet, Naval Facilities Command, and Naval Sea Systems Command.
And the project is sited across Manila Bay, where the Philippine Navy’s headquarters are located.
For retired Philippine naval commander Alexander Pama, allowing CCP influence in an area as sensitive as this would be like “a dagger in the heart of the country.”
Pama said, “Historically, naval and air bases have been located there precisely because of their strategic location to protect the nation’s capital,” reported EurAsian Times.
Conflicts between the two countries
The Philippine government is still in disputes with the CCP over territories in the South China Sea.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the South China Sea area is being highly militarized by the CCP, which only exacerbates tensions with neighboring countries.
The CCP claims some 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, estimated to be in the area. This has led to confrontations with claimants from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
In the 1970s, countries began to claim islands and various areas of the South China Sea, such as the Spratly Islands, which have rich natural resources and plentiful fishing grounds.
On November 16, 2021, two Filipino civilian vessels delivering supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre, stranded on the Ayungin sandbar, were blocked and attacked with water cannons by three Chinese coast guard vessels.
The BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated World War II vessel now owned by the Philippine Navy, serves as a holding fort and fishermen’s refuge.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs condemned the Chinese regime’s actions. And on November 18, 2021, it issued a statement according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr that said,“These acts committed by the Chinese Coast Guard are ‘illegal’. China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas.”
The Philippine government will continue to provide supplies to its troops in Ayungin Shoal, Locsin continued.
The Philippines considers that its exclusive economic zone is 200 nautical miles, therefore, the Ayungin Shoal is under its sovereignty about 105 nautical miles from its shore.
The truth is that the CCP in its expansionist ambition has generated distrust and general repulsion from neighboring countries. Its disregard for the individual rights of Chinese citizens is known to all, even more so to foreigners.