Manila: The Philippines is all “eyes and ears” ahead of two-day bilateral talks between the United States and China next week, following China’s recent announcement that its island-reclamation projects on seven shoals and reefs in the South China Sea will soon be concluded, sources said.

The Philippines is seeking a consistent US policy in its calls on China to end its reclamation projects in the South China Sea, the same source said.

“There will be close monitoring of what will transpire during the meeting of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lews with China’s Vice-Premier Wang Yang and his companion, foreign policy official and State Councillor Yang Jiechi on June 23 and 24.”

US President Barack Obama and China’s Prime Minister Xi Jinping will also meet in Washington in September, the same source said, adding that regional observers are “waiting for the outcome of the geopolitical love triangle formed by China, the US, and the Philippines (including Vietnam) as regards overlapping claims in the South China Sea”.

China and the US have been holding six bilateral meetings called ‘USC Strategic and Economic Dialogue’. Their sixth bilateral meeting was held in Beijing in 2014.

On its website, China said its island-enhancement projects would also include infrastructure build-up for studies on environment protection, marine research, search and rescue operation — for all nations in the region.

The Philippines claimed that China’s rapid island enhancement is to fortify and militarise distant marine gateways towards China.

Aerial maritime surveillance done by the Philippine government last May showed that,

Kagitingan or Fiery Cross Reef has a three-kilometre concrete runway and a two-kilometre taxiway for a manoeuvre of military cargo aircraft, Peter Paul Galvez, defence department spokesman told ABS CBN, a TV network.

Mabini or Johnson Reef has paved roads with armoured personnel carriers, Galvez said, adding Kenna Reef has an additional 300-metre long island.

Thirty-two dredging vessels, 32 cargo vessels, and three ocean tugs worked overtime on Mischief Reef, said Galvez, adding that three of the seven projects are in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines in the South China Sea, called the West Philippine Sea by Manila.

China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea and some parts of the oil-rich Spratly Archipelago. Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim respective EEZs and parts of the Spratly Archipelago.