By Zhong Sheng, People’s Daily

Recently, the Philippines has repeatedly stirred up trouble in the South China Sea, continuously infringing on China’s sovereignty, making provocative moves in the waters of Ren’ai Jiao in China’s Nansha Qundao, and spreading disinformation to smear China.

As a country from outside the region, the United States not only encouraged and supported the Philippines’ provocative moves, but also distorted facts and made irresponsible accusations against China, irresponsibly escalating tensions in the region.

The Philippines, bolstered by the support of extraterritorial forces, has brushed aside China’s goodwill and restraint, and has repeatedly challenged China’s principles and red line. This is extremely dangerous and poses a serious threat to regional peace, stability, prosperity and development.

China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao, including Ren’ai Jiao, and their adjacent waters. This was established in the long course of history and is consistent with international law including the UN Charter.

The Philippines promised to tow away a warship illegally “grounded” at Ren’ai Jiao 24 years ago. But 24 years on, the warship is still there.

Over the course of this year, the Philippines has gone back on its words and kept sending government and military vessels into the waters of Ren’ai Jiao to supply construction materials for the large-scale repair and reinforcement of the “grounded” warship and permanently occupy Ren’ai Jiao.

These moves gravely violated China’s sovereignty and went against international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

It has been the Philippines who is breaching the common understandings with China and heightening tensions in the South China Sea. It is the Philippines who has attempted to change the current status of Ren’ai Jiao and make it a fait accompli, and it is the Philippines who has on every occasion courted external forces to put pressure on China. This is an undeniable fact that cannot be changed no matter how the Philippine side tries to manipulate it.

In response to the Philippines’ provocations, the China Coast Guard (CCG) responded in accordance with laws to safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty. The CCG’s operations were reasonable, legitimate, and professional.

China firmly opposes the Philippines’ attempt to occupy Ren’ai Jiao and has made clear its solemn position to the Philippine side at various levels and through multiple channels, putting forward proposals for properly managing the situation.

It is against the principles of international law and legally untenable for the Philippines to cite the “award” of the South China Sea arbitration, which is illegal, null and void, to claim that Ren’ai Jiao falls within its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and deny China’s sovereignty over it.

China will continue to do what is necessary in accordance with domestic and international laws to resolutely respond to provocative moves that infringe on China’s sovereignty and defend its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

At the same time, China has been committed to enhancing communication with the Philippines with sincerity and goodwill to properly handle the tension. China hopes that the Philippines will make the right choice, and seriously honor its commitment to properly handling disputes through dialogue and consultation.

The Philippines relies on the United States as an extraterritorial force to cause trouble and provocation in the South China Sea.

The United States has been inciting and supporting the Philippines attempts to repair and reinforce its warship that was deliberately “grounded” on Ren’ai Jiao. The United States even sent over military aircraft and vessels to assist and support the Philippines, and repeatedly sought to threaten China by citing the United States-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

Instead of honoring its commitment to not taking a position on the South China Sea, the United States blatantly emboldened the Philippines’ violation of China’s sovereignty, confounding right with wrong and deflecting blame. It has been acting as a scaremonger on security issues that stokes confrontation and antagonism. This seriously violates the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and gravely jeopardizes regional peace and stability, which is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.

Rigoberto Tiglao, former spokesperson for former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said in a recent article that the irrationality of the Philippines is a testament to the power of U.S. propaganda. He noted that the United States demonizes China as a threat to countries in the region such as the Philippines, saying “It was so easy for the U.S. to brainwash us.”

The United States has repeatedly attempted to stir up trouble in the South China Sea through the Philippines, to undermine China’s relationships with regional countries and enlist their support in its geopolitical strategy to contain China.

The United States once pulled strings behind the scenes when the political drama of the so-called South China Sea arbitration was staged, and now it is actively drawing in the Philippine government, intensifying military deployments around the waters in the South China Sea, and conducting so-called joint patrols, exercises, and training with its allies in the region. Through these actions, the United States has again and again sent erroneous signals to the Philippines under the guise of so-called “security commitments.”

Thoughtful people in the Philippines can see through the U.S. ploy of binding and instigating the Philippines to serve as cannon fodder in order to maintain the U.S. hegemony.

Anna Malindog-Uy, vice president of the Manila-based think tank Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute, noted that the U.S. efforts to draw in the Philippines are escalating tensions, divisions, and conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region, which not only threatens regional peace and stability, but also exacerbates militarization in the Philippines and the entire region at large.

The collusion between the Philippines and the United States has led to the escalation of tensions in the South China Sea, which goes against the trend of the times and does not serve the overall interests of regional countries.

China has always been committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea through dialogue and consultation with ASEAN countries, including the Philippines. However, China will never accept any threats, coercion, or groundless accusations and attacks.

China unswervingly upholds its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. If the Philippines misjudges the situation, continues to act recklessly, and even collaborates with ill-intentioned external forces to continue causing troubles, China will respond firmly and resolutely defend its rights in accordance with the law.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)


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