China Daily

Manila’s infringement activities heading to wrecking confrontation

Last week, the China Coast Guard said it monitored and controlled Philippine Coast Guard vessels that attempted to transfer personnel and supplies to a coast guard ship illegally stationed at China’s Xianbin Reef. The Philippine vessel has been there for more than 70 days.

This scenario looks familiar. In 1999, the Philippines deliberately grounded a World War II-era warship at China’s Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea, and its squatting on the Chinese maritime territory has continued till today.

Ever since the Philippines grounded its old warship at Ren’ai Reef, it has not only stationed and rotated forces there but also kept sending supplies to them. Since last year, it has even sent building materials to fortify the decaying ship, trying to make its illegal occupation a fait accompli.

Now, Manila is trying the same claim-jump trick at Xianbin Reef.

Manila should be aware that Beijing will not let what happened at Ren’ai Reef be repeated at Xianbin Reef with impunity. Chinese law enforcement forces will take pertinent countermeasures.

This is just the latest in a series of Philippine provocations which have raised tensions in the waters and stoked ire between the two countries.

This year alone, vessels on both sides have clashed more than once at Ren’ai Reef making it a flashpoint in the South China Sea.

So far, China has exercised restraint in the face of Manila’s infringement activities, responding to them with legitimate, justified and appropriate law enforcement measures.

This underscores both its commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the waters and its continued hope that Manila will come to its senses and return to the right track of properly handling the territorial disputes through dialogue and consultation. That the ninth meeting between the two sides under the Bicameral Consultation Mechanism on July 2 went ahead was therefore positive in this respect.

However, after the consultation, Philippine officials, although expressing Manila’s willingness to ease the tensions, also outrageously demanded 60 million Philippine pesos (about $1 million) from China as “compensation” for property damages incurred during the recent incident, despite this being the result of its own brazen unlawful actions. The Philippine armed forces chief has even demanded the return of seven guns seized by Chinese law enforcement personnel.

Given the Philippines’ recent antics, such ridiculous requests only serve to further discredit Manila, which bears all the responsibility for stoking tensions over Ren’ai and Xianbin reefs. It has allowed itself to be led astray by the worm-tongue enticements of the United States.

Manila should follow Beijing’s lead and show more restraint, lest it go too far and have to face the consequences of constantly stirring up trouble in the South China Sea. Manila only has to look at Ukraine to see the upshot of being too willing to be the US’ proxy.

Manila should reflect on the course of action it is pursuing. The Philippines will only run aground on the rocks of its ambitions if it navigates by the wrecker lights of Washington.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion