The Philippines on Tuesday announced that it will not follow Washington in blacklisting Chinese firms involved in the South China Sea, state-run media said.
According to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the announcement made by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte will not follow the US move blacklisting Chinese firms.
"All projects involving Chinese companies that are banned in the US can continue in the Philippines," said Roque.
“The president declared last night that the Americans can blacklist Chinese companies in their territories in America and perhaps their military bases under their jurisdiction,” the agency quoted Roque as saying.
Duterte refused to follow Washington as the Philippines is a “free and independent nation” and the country needs Chinese investment, he added.
Roque also said Chinese companies will continue all their projects in the country, including Sangley International Airport.
Last December, Duterte's administration awarded the multi-billion project to China Communications Construction Company, one of China’s largest state-owned infrastructure firms, and local partner MacroAsia Corp to build a new international airport on the outskirts of the capital Manila.
Last week the US government blacklisted 24 Chinese companies over their alleged role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarize artificial islands in the South China Sea.
“The United States, China’s neighbors, and the international community have rebuked the CCP’s [Communist Chinese Party] sovereignty claims to the South China Sea and have condemned the building of artificial islands for the Chinese military,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement.
“The entities designated today have played a significant role in China’s provocative construction of these artificial islands and must be held accountable.” he added.
China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, among others, have been debating South China Sea maritime and territorial disputes for over two decades.
Beijing claims roughly 90% of the total area defined by a map with an ambiguous "dash-line" – a U-shaped demarcation line – published in 1947.
The islands are said to have energy reserves. The sea is also a major trading route, and home to fishing grounds.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid