Manila testing Beijing's patience

Updated: 2014-05-12 07:41

By Liu Qiang(China Daily)

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Manila believes the main goal of Washington's rebalancing strategy is to prevent China from replacing the US as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific. Encouraged by this assumption, the Philippines is using the US muscle to "legitimize" its illegal occupation of China's islands and reefs. The fact is, the US' rebalancing strategy has failed to restore peace and stability in the region. On the contrary, it has disrupted the relatively stable strategic situation and raised the risk of conflicts and clashes. Given such a situation, the US should persuade its allies not to create trouble in the South China Sea.

Besides, the collusion among some countries locked in disputes with China over the South China Sea has also prompted the Philippines to take provocative actions against China. The Philippines and Vietnam illegally occupy many of China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Therefore, the two countries usually act in collusion over the South China Sea issue.

Just a day after Manila detained 11 Chinese fishermen, Vietnamese vessels intentionally collided with Chinese vessels in order to disrupt normal drilling operations by the China side in its waters. The incident reflected that Hanoi and Manila have joined hands to hype up the South China Sea issue to illegally seize China's islands and reefs. What Manila doesn't realize is that, its provocative actions are like the proverbial rock, which it has lifted only to drop it on its feet.

The overwhelming global trend is of peace, development and cooperation. So, the Philippines will be opposed by countries that are eager to maintain peace and stability in the region. And ultimately, the Philippine people will protest against the US' strengthened military presence in their country because of the painful memories of American colonial rule in the Philippines.

Moreover, given the progress of a "new type of major-power relationship" between China and the US, Washington might eventually disappoint its Asian allies when it comes to their disputes with Beijing. After all, US foreign policy has always given priority to its own interests. Also, it is doubtful whether the US will enter into full confrontation with China and seriously damage its interests just to humor its allies.

Above all, the Philippines should stop creating trouble in the South China Sea and testing Beijing's patience, because even with US help it cannot win an all-out confrontation with China. It's time the Philippines realized that the countries occupying Chinese territory will end up paying heavy price.

Furthermore, the South China Sea disputes are between China and some Southeast Asian countries. So, the involvement of other parties will only complicate the matter further. China has always advocated friendly negotiations with disputing countries to resolve the disputes, because it believes that they can properly handle the issue to maintain peace and stability in the region. If the Philippines (and other disputing countries) share this belief, it must release the Chinese fishermen as soon as possible, instead of complicating the matter further.

The author is a professor and director of International Security Research Center, affiliated to PLA International Relations University.

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