Facing up to troublemakers
Updated: 2014-05-13 07:23
A Chinese deep-sea oil rig, operating in our own territorial waters near the Xisha Islands, has been harassed repeatedly by Vietnamese vessels, some of them naval vessels.
Eleven Chinese fishermen, operating in traditional fisheries that have been China's for centuries, were held by the Philippine authorities and are now being prosecuted for unverifiable crimes.
The timing of such incidents is notable, coming as they have after US President Barack Obama's visit to the US' key Asia-Pacific allies and just before the 24th summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
In response to these unwarranted actions, and in contrast to outsider allegations that it is being "increasingly assertive", Beijing has remained faithful to its vow of restraint and has committed to talks with countries with conflicting territorial claims.
Even when our compatriots are in illicit Filipino custody. Even when armed Vietnamese ships intentionally crash into our law-enforcement vessels. Beijing has been calling for a "return to reason".
Reason is essential for a sensible resolution to any dispute. Those in a dispute must be reasonable and act reasonably. However, that is something that Japan, the Philippines, and now Vietnam, refuse to be, hypocritically accusing China of their own faults. With malicious third parties only too willing to goad them on, they have chosen to escalate tensions and are trying to portray China as a bully.
For fear that the country's growing might could have caused unnecessary worries in the region, some in China are in favor of pacifying the troublemakers. But a rat will not be pacified when we hesitate to pelt it for fear of smashing the vase beside it.
While friends should be embraced, it is time to adopt a different stance to those that bear us ill will.
The ancient trick of scaring the monkey by killing a chicken is too outdated to be a viable choice today. But since the Philippines has singled itself out as a determined challenger of Chinese national interests and the devoted hatchet man of foreign anti-China forces, it needs to be convinced that it has made a choice that, if it persists, means paying an unaffordable price.
In any consultations regarding territorial disputes, Beijing must make sure that every claimant knows blackmail and extortion will not work, and that it will not compromise its territorial integrity.