In South China Sea, China’s determination is stronger than US’ ‘ironclad commitment’
Published: Mar 29, 2024 06:07 PM
Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr.

Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr

 Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr let out a loud scream and made a threatening statement, further escalating tensions in the South China Sea. 

The Philippines will implement countermeasures against "illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks" by China's coastguard, Marcos Jr said on Thursday. He did not specify what those countermeasures would be, but arrogantly stated that they would be implemented in the coming weeks. He is gambling in a childish and ridiculous way. 

The Philippine president, who took office two years ago, stated, "We seek no conflict with any nation, more so nations that purport and claim to be our friends but we will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience."  

The "attacks" Marcos Jr refers to were China Coast Guard (CCG) ships intercepting a Philippine supply vessel near Ren'ai Jiao and firing water cannons, in addition to at least two collisions between the two countries' ships. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed the ironclad US commitment to the Philippines on Wednesday, claiming that the Philippines was conducting "lawful resupply mission." 

In response to the Philippines' recent provocative actions, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said on Thursday that China will not allow the Philippines to act willfully on the South China Sea issue. "On the South China Sea issue between China and the Philippines, we have stated our serious position multiple times. We oppose foreign interference, infringement and provocation, and advocate proper management of differences," said Wu, adding that the Chinese military is fully prepared for any emergency. 

Manila is getting cocky. Emboldened by US support, it is attempting to forcibly change the status quo in the South China Sea and reach a new breakthrough in Ren'ai Jiao. Marcos Jr is testing China's bottom line with his arrogance, hoping to verify a fantasy that China will make concessions to Manila under pressure from the US-Philippines alliance in order to maintain peace. We must shatter Marcos Jr's fantasy, leaving him with nothing but facing humiliation in front of his domestic public opinion and the world.

China should turn the disputes in Ren'ai Jiao into an example of the provocateur attempting to go for wool and come home shorn. The Philippines does not have the strength to play too many tricks, and we have more than enough power to counter any so-called countermeasures it may take. CCG ships are large in tonnage, strong in power, and the water cannons are ready for the next mission.

I believe that the Philippines dares not fire at CCG ships. If they go crazy and open fire, then we need to retaliate without hesitation, severely damage or even sink the firing Philippine ship. In the year of the US election, the Biden administration lacks the courage to provoke an armed conflict with China in the South China Sea. Its so-called commitments to the Philippines are empty promises. 

Of course, we must also be prepared for the worst. If the US helps the Philippines, we must also resolutely fight back, teach the US a lesson, and make both the lackeys and the masters lose face in the South China Sea. We must let them know that China's determination is stronger than US' so-called ironclad commitment. 

We should clearly demonstrate our overall will and stance — China does not want conflicts in the South China Sea, we support the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and uphold the current status quo of disputes. Regarding the friction around Ren'ai Jiao, we must make it clear to the world that we have always been restrained. We have long allowed the Philippines to provide supplies to the grounded dilapidated warship, but we have prevented the Philippines from transporting construction materials to the ship and opposed turning the ship into a permanent outpost. 

We have never used force against the Philippines, and our force will only be used for retaliation and punishment. In this way, we have sufficient strength to deal with the Philippines' provocations and gambling, and always hold the moral high ground in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea. If a conflict escalates, we will still have the initiative to control it.

The author is a Chinese media professional. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn