Manila's name game
Updated: 2012-09-14 08:07
By renaming a part of the South China Sea the "West Philippine Sea", Manila has managed again to whip up tensions between itself and China, especially since the waters it claims as its maritime territory in fact contain China's Huangyan Island.
It is only natural that Beijing would strongly oppose such a reckless decision.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, reporting information that was only released on Wednesday, recently said that Philippine President Benigno Aquino signed an administrative order on Sept 5 to give the name "West Philippine Sea" to the parts of the South China Sea that "fall within the country's exclusive economic zone". Aquino said that zone includes Scarborough Shoal, which has been long known in China as Huangyan Island.
Any reasonable person can recognize that Manila is being irrational if it thinks it can gain sovereignty over a part of the South China Sea simply by giving it a different name.
China, with its indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island, will not tolerate the Philippines' attempts to encroach upon its maritime territory. Manila's decision is therefore null and void and will do nothing to change the fact that the South China Sea and Huangyan Island have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times.
History shows that China was the first both to discover the island and to exercise legitimate jurisdiction over it and adjacent places in the sea. The Chinese have been navigating those waters for more than 2,000 years.
Until recently, the Philippines had recognized the Huangyan Island as being part of Chinese territory. In official maps the country published in 1981, 1984 and 2006, the small island was explicitly excluded from Philippine territory. In recent years, though, it has become a much-coveted piece of land.
The most recent round of tension over the island arose after a Philippine gunboat harassed Chinese fishermen in early April. Manila has since resorted to one antic after another to restate its "sovereignty" over that territory. Those have only succeeded in aggravating the situation and straining Sino-Philippine ties.
Since China imposed a three-month moratorium on summer fishing in the South China Sea, the waters around the island have remained relatively peaceful. Amid such circumstances, Manila's latest decision will do nothing but squander the efforts both sides have made to quell the recent disputes. China will never shy away from protecting its territory.
The Philippines, therefore, will have to reap what it has sown.
(China Daily 09/14/2012 page8)