Manila should stop provocations on South China Sea

Updated: 2015-06-02 10:09


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BEIJING -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III is probably the most frequent visitor among all foreign leaders Tokyo has received: his Japan tour starting on Tuesday marks the sixth since he took office five years ago.

The unrivaled travel frequency is indeed conspicuous against Manila's growing appetite for a more assertive role regarding the South China Sea.

According to reports, the focus of Aquino's visit is to secure the transfer of Japanese military equipment to boost capabilities of Philippine armed forces. And the perceived enemy is, of course, China, as Manila has spared no effort in recent years to play up an "imminent" China threat on South China Sea.

There is no denial that Manila has reaped some benefits by hyping the tale of a bullying China. It stole sympathy from those who are not familiar with the real situation on the South China Sea, and more importantly convinced its traditional allies to speed up the transfer of second-hand military vessels and warplanes to it.

However, it won't take long before Manila realizes that fewer around the world are listening to its cliche accusations against China, as more see through the fact that Manila is destabilizing the situation with various tricks while Beijing has always exercised maximum restraint.

With global sympathy fading, China-demonizing Manila will still be able to enjoy the seemingly warm embrace of allies such as the United States and Japan, but any sober mind knows that these countries have their own shrewd and selfish strategic calculations in supporting Manila's aggressive maneuvers against China.

A popular guess is that they will remain loyal friends for Manila as long as they could stay clear of war should Manila invite one to its doorstep.

Decision-makers in Manila know better than anyone else that the country's current policy on South China Sea is like walking a tight rope, and the gains from the dangerous behavior are hardly worthwhile.

To remedy the precarious situation, Manila has to first and foremost discard its lousy trick of portraying itself as a victim of alleged bullying by China, and stop making provocative rhetoric or moves to fuel tension on the South China Sea.

Manila will be faulted if it sticks to its unilateral moves against China, which as a responsible player has insisted on a peaceful settlement of the issue.