Malacañang keeps faith in China despite ‘island-maker’

Pia Ranada
Malacañang keeps faith in China despite ‘island-maker’
The Philippine government insists China has assured President Duterte it has no intention to reclaim in Scarborough Shoal

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday, November 7, said it is counting on China to stay true to its word it would not reclaim land in the Scarborough Shoal after reports it has launched a massive dredging ship nicknamed the “island-maker.” 

“The President 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,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday, November 7.

“We need to rely on good faith, because otherwise there will be no predictability in international relations,” he added during that day’s Malacañang briefing. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday the Philippine government is monitoring the dredger.

The 140-meter-long ship named Tian Kun Hao is said to be the biggest dredger vessel in Asia, capable of building artificial islands.

International security observers are worried it could be deployed to the South China Sea, particularly to reclaim Scarborough Shoal.

But Roque said the Philippine government is not just “trusting” China since it already secured a landmark victory in its case against the Asian giant with the international court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Duterte’s spokesman said that issues in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) are not stopping the Philippines from strengthening its economic ties with China.

“I think we are seeing new heights in terms of Philippine-Chinese relations and it has resulted in very tangible results particularly economic investments,” said Roque. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at