Two scoundrels acting tough

Updated: 2014-06-11 08:09

(China Daily)

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Vietnam and the Philippines are trying to make a scene over their maritime territorial disputes with China. A football game between the two armies on an island controlled by Vietnam in the South China Sea on Sunday is the latest shameless farce the two countries have staged.

Turning a blind eye to the fact that the South China Sea islands have long been China's territory and even their own old maps marked the nine-dash lines in the area as belonging to China, both countries are behaving like scoundrels on the street.

Hundreds of ships sent by Vietnam have been trying to interfere with the construction of a floating drilling rig by a Chinese oil firm near China's Xisha Islands for weeks. And in March, the Philippines tried to send supplies to a warship that it grounded on China's Ren'ai Reef in the late 1990s, in a bid to claim ownership of it, to display its defiance at China's sovereignty over the island.

With the intention of giving the world an impression that they are being bullied by China, they have ignored China's offer to shelve the disputes and jointly explore the resources in the South China Sea. Instead, they consider China's restraint and goodwill gesture as a sign it lacks the heart for direct conflict.

Some remarks by United States officials and military generals showing the US sides with them on this issue have cajoled them into the fantasy that they can expect military help from the world's sole superpower should they have a military conflict with China.

This is a miscalculation.

China has exercised restraint and made its goodwill gesture for the settlement of the disputes through peaceful means because China treasures friendship with its two neighbors and peace in the region. Chinese leaders have reiterated repeatedly that China wants its rise to be peaceful. But China will never give in on the question of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China would never provoke any country or make trouble in the world but China is not afraid of provocations from any country.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines should not underestimate China's determination to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity if necessary no matter which country has ill-advisedly puffed up their bravado.

There is a limit to China's restraint. Bilateral talks on an equal basis for the peaceful settlement of the disputes are what China wants from both countries. China does not bully any country, but both Vietnam and the Philippines should not take its forbearance for granted.