Manila going too far

Updated: 2012-04-27 08:05

(China Daily)

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Beijing's response to the Manila-instigated standoff at Huangyan Island in the South China Sea has remained restrained and rational. As a responsible power, China has approached the dispute with the overall picture of Sino-Philippine ties and the stability of the region in mind.

However, in contrast to Beijing's restraint, Manila has continued with its provocative words and actions.

After China withdrew two of its maritime surveillance vessels from the area on Sunday to de-escalate the situation, the Philippines' response was to send more vessels to the island waters.

Recent remarks from Philippine officials have only added more fuel to the fire. During his visit to the United States on Monday, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Albert del Rosario said China is a national threat in the South China Sea and the Philippines should stand up to it.

As his country's top diplomat, Rosario should feel ashamed for uttering such irresponsible words. He should be reminded that it is his own country that started the current standoff.

He also quoted ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu's The Art of War on April 14, saying the Philippines should "know when and how to fight". Rosario would do better to reflect on philosopher Mencius words: "A just cause enjoys abundant support, while an unjust cause finds little."

In fact, Manila has violated the agreements reached between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China on solving the disputes bilaterally and in peace. It constantly seeks to stir up waves in the South China Sea and has tried hard, though to little avail, to sow differences between ASEAN and China.

Many in China are beginning to lose patience as the face-off continues into its third week and some are calling for more resolute moves to punish Manila and defend the country's maritime territory.

On Thursday the Ministry of Defense said the Chinese military will work with fishery and maritime authorities to jointly safeguard the country's maritime territorial integrity.

Whether tensions over the stand-off at the Huangyan Island escalate further depends to a large extent on how Manila acts next.

If Manila continues to ignore this country's repeated offer of and appeal for peaceful dialogue, it should not count on eternal Chinese restraint.

As Sun Tzu pointed out nothing is more difficult than the art of maneuvering for an advantageous position, and in trying to do so in the South China Sea, the Philippines is only getting itself into hot water.

(China Daily 04/27/2012 page8)