WHAT may be considered as a problem of national survival, we can actually take as but a concern among nations. I am referring to the conflict between the Philippines and China over shoals and islands in the South China Sea. Recently, China was condemned by other nations for constructing islands in the area.

The recent development is that China has announced that it has finished constructing the islands and will proceed with the construction of some structures there.

This caught the attention of the Philippines, Japan and the United States and they all criticized China.

The United States says China has created 800 hectares of new land in the South China Sea in the last 18 months. Most of them are near the Philippines, threatening the security of the archipelago.

For Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, this is not acceptable. “With the completion of the reclamation, we must not accept the land reclamation as a done deal. We demand (China) not to take unilateral actions that bring irreversible and physical changes.”

For the Philippines, this is a defense issue. Our country’s defense department said that a three-kilometer runway on Fiery Cross Reef, which is in the West Philippine Sea, is big enough to handle a Boeing 747. It is already 75 percent complete.

“This can serve serve as China’s forward operating base, a refueling stop for ships and aircraft. This will allow China easy reach in the West Philippine Sea and extend their reach up to Australia and other parts of the South Pacific,” according to Defense department spokesman Peter Galvez.

Galvez said that China can now do anything they want there. It could be their command and control center. Some analysts are even suspecting that China is preparing to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone over the sea, thus forcing all aircraft to declare themselves to Chinese authorities.

As for the United States, it has warned China recently against “weaponizing” the islands. A senior State Department official said that, “We certainly don’t want to see the militarization of those facilities. China is alone on this. There’s nobody else in the region that’s supportive of these efforts.”

This is why Japan and the Philippines will hold a second joint naval exercise next week near the Spratly islands. Because our country is weak militarily, we need the help of Japan and other nations to counter China.

President Noynoy Aquino is also trying to ask the United Nations to pressure China into stopping what it is doing in the South China Sea. Even if we are weak, we can still find ways to defend ourselves.

And maybe, we can continue strengthening our military capability by buying more armaments.