China insists PH projects comply with laws of both countries

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — There are no violations in Chinese companies’ projects in the Philippines, according to Beijing as it welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s refusal to follow sanctions imposed by the United States on firms involved in illegal activities in the South China Sea.

Speaking at a regular press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying once again commended Duterte’s independent foreign policy.

“Practical cooperation between China and the Philippines has always been based on mutual respect and mutual benefit," Hua said. "All the projects are in accordance with the laws and regulations of the two countries.”

Hua made the remarks when asked to respond to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement that all deals with Chinese companies will push through, despite a different proposal from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr.

Locsin said last week that he will recommend ending contracts with Chinese firms found to be behind incursions in disputed waters. This was after Washington blacklisted China Communications Construction Company and its subsidiaries, including China Airport Construction Corporation, which is the partner of taipan Lucio Tan's MacroAsia Corporation in upgrading the Sangley Airport in Cavite province.

Roque on Thursday clarified that Locsin’s statement was only a recommendation, while the President remains chief architect of foreign policy.

READ: 'No conflict' between Duterte, Locsin over call to end deals with Chinese firms involved in sea dispute

Early this week, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian called the Chinese firms' activities in the South China Sea as “domestic construction” which is “within its sovereignty.”

Both Hua and Huang underscored the positive results of the two countries' cooperation in the Philippines’ massive Build, Build, Build infrastructure program and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Duterte has nurtured friendship with China despite its continued rejection of the Philippines’ arbitration win which recognized its sovereign rights to areas within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone that Beijing claims. China insists on owning the entire South China Sea, including areas Manila claims as the West Philippine Sea.

The U.S. does not claim any part of the global waterway but conducts freedom of navigation operations and opposes China's alleged militarization of the contested areas.