Never test China's will to defend sovereignty

Updated: 2012-05-09 21:29


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BEIJING - For nearly a month, Manila has not only turned a deaf ear to Beijing's position on resolving the dispute over China's Huangyan Island through diplomacy, but made repeated provocative moves to heighten the tension, severely infringing China's sovereignty in the process.

It is widely accepted Huangyan Island has been an integral part of China since ancient times, both on a historical and a legal basis. The surrounding waters are China's traditional fishing grounds and Chinese fishmen have fished there for generations.

For some time, in a bid to grab the territory, the Philippines not only stirred up trouble by changing the name of the island and removing signs from it, but also put on act of being "disadvantaged" in an attempt to win support from the international community. All these moves have heightened and even worsened the issue.

Why has the Philippines ignored China's repeated calls for calm? Manila is clear in its mind that only by heightening, complicating and internationalizing the issue can it fish in troubled waters and cash in.

Furthermore, as some media point out, the Philippines' tough stance in the recent confrontation with China over Huangyan is an attempt by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to distract the public and revive its dwindling popularity.

From the very beginning, the Philippines has indulged in its own imagination and miscalculated the situation. Abusing China's long-time good-neighbor policy and its strong will for peaceful development, Manila has randomly crossed China's baseline, underestimating China's determination to safeguard its territory and sovereignty.

But the Philippines' strategy has not gained the results for which it hoped. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations remains neutral. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also made it clear that Washington would not take sides on the sovereignty dispute over the South China Sea.

In the past 30 or so years since China's reform and opening-up, the world economy has been energized by China's fast growth. Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, has also benefited from China's growth.

However, the Philippine government has failed to curb its improper coveting of China's marine territory and is bent on having its own way. The Philippine government's actions can bring nothing but harm to the country's economy, a deep worry shared by the Philippines public and business circles.

China always adheres to friendly relationships with its neighbors. But territorial sovereignty is a core interest for China and there is no room for bargaining. Is there any country in the world that has not drawn clear lines to protect its territorial integrity?

China has made every preparation to respond if the Philippines government clings obstinately to its wrong course.

No matter how the standoff over Huangyan Island develops, China will not change its friendly foreign policy to its neighbors, nor switch its will to forge peace and stability, equality and mutual benefit, and cooperation.

Meanwhile, China's resolve and strong will to safeguard its inherent territorial sovereignty will never swerve under any conditions.

In the past month, China has stood on just grounds and exercised restraint in the face of provocative actions from the Philippines. China's tolerance should not be taken advantage of nor be misjudged.

Currently, the urgent task of the Philippines government is to stop detrimental moves, keep a solemn mind and return to the right path as soon as possible.