Manila’s ‘stranded ship’ trick self-defeating

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-13 23:53:01

Chinese coast guard ships recently drove away two ships flying Philippine flags and loaded with construction materials from the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands. As an inherent part of China's territory, this reef was encroached by the Philippines the second day after NATO forces bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. It sent a warship and grounded it on the beach, claiming the ship was stranded.

After that, the Chinese government repeatedly demanded that Manila retrieve the ship, but the Philippines insists that technical problems have prevented it from doing so. In fact, Manila says one thing but does another. It is trying to reinforce and turn the nearly collapsed ship into a permanent facility. By playing this trick, the Philippines can only make the country look naïve.

The US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg commented on this issue, saying China's move is provocative. Washington's backing must be the reason why Manila still clings to the illusion that its tricks will have any effect.

But the country must note that while the US can rock the boat in the South China Sea, it is unable to decide the result of the conflict between China and the Philippines.

China is capable of resolving this dispute for good in an aggressive way, and Chinese society is also calling for such an approach, even more eagerly than the Philippines' claims of "defending" the reef.

But the Chinese government has chosen to deal with this issue in a much softer manner, through which it hopes to maintain stability in the whole area.

The Ren'ai Reef dispute must end with the Philippines stopping its "stranded ship" trick. China will never allow it to be reinforced into a permanent facility.

If Manila wants to fan nationalism domestically, it will be a self-defeating strategy for the Philippine leadership. Any grand promises it makes to its people will end up being nothing more than lip service.

Any aggressive actions that Manila wants to take on the reef will only cause it to learn new lessons from China. These actions, if they cross the line, could also be an opportunity for China to settle the dispute once and for all. China has never intended to raise tensions in the South China Sea, but if a stressful situation is what Manila wants, China will definitely take it to the very end.

In the past few years, China has acted with the utmost restraint in the South China Sea, but a warning must be sent to the other claimants without legitimate grounds.

As for the US, the more trouble it makes, the harder it will find its situation in this area. Washington is rich in geopolitical experience. It knows that it cannot overturn the general direction of the situation in this area.

Posted in: Observer

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