Manila’s pre­med­i­tated ploy

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

In a reck­less move that fur­ther un­der­mined the peace in the re­gion, the Philip­pines de­tained 11 Chi­nese fish­er­men and their boat near China’s HalfMoon Shoal in the South China Sea on the grounds that they had poached sea tur­tles. No mat­ter whether the al­le­ga­tion is true or not, Manila is in the wrong be­cause China has in­dis­putable sov­er­eign rights over the Nan­sha Is­lands and the ad­ja­cent wa­ters, in­clud­ing theHalfMoon Shoal, where the in­ci­dent oc­curred, says a Xin­hua News Agency com­men­tary.

Thus any ac­tions taken by the Philip­pines against the Chi­nese fish­er­men are il­le­gal and in­valid and can be re­garded as di­rect in­fringe­ments on China’s sovereignty.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened not long af­ter US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama vis­it­edManila, dur­ing which the United States and the Philip­pines re­asserted their mil­i­tary al­liance, and just days be­fore the an­nual sum­mit of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, dur­ing which the em­bold­ened Philip­pines, to­gether with Viet­nam, launched a failed bid to pit the re­gional bloc against Bei­jing.

This joint ap­proach came af­ter a Philip­pine naval del­e­ga­tion’s beer drink­ing and vol­ley­ball play­ing with Viet­namese sailors in the South China Sea in April, which was widely in­ter­preted as a sign of the two coun­tries’ budding dou­ble act.

But that kind of ill-dis­posed joint ven­ture is built on shaky ground and is doomed to fail.

While re­it­er­at­ing calls for peace­ful set­tle­ment of the dis­putes and joint de­vel­op­ment of re­sources, China has also made it clear that it is con­fi­dent and ca­pa­ble of coun­ter­ing chal­lenges to its ter­ri­to­rial and sov­er­eign in­tegrity.

All par­ties should be re­minded that ig­no­rance of China’s re­solve to de­fend its sov­er­eign land will in­duce con­se­quences too se­vere for cer­tain coun­tries to bear.

Mean­while, the wish to main­tain re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity is shared by China and the ma­jor­ity of ASEAN mem­bers.

The US, which is strength­en­ing its mil­i­tary al­liance with­Manila and has a huge stake in the re­gion’s sta­bil­ity, should com­ply with its prom­ise to leave the coun­tries con­cerned to set­tle their dif­fer­ences through bi­lat­eral talks.

In­stead of spoil­ing its in­creas­ingly para­noid ju­nior ally and mud­dy­ing the wa­ters, Wash­ing­ton should keep­Manila within bounds and try not to stir up ten­sions by back­ing its reck­less stunts.

Af­ter all, it won’t serveWash­ing­ton’s in­ter­ests if the dis­pute in the South China Sea spins out of con­trol.

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