By Li Hongmei, Sina English
Perhaps, it is a rare and “unusually bold move” by the Philippines, amongst all its overt and covert actions to wrest the oil-rich islets in the South China Sea from China, that Manila is right now launching a multilayered campaign against China, with the standoff entering its 19th day off the Huangyan Island.
Over the days, its officials have grilled the Chinese ambassador, proposed an elaborate dispute-resolution plan to its Southeast Asian neighbors, and bought two former US coast guard ships to help its navy to hold off China.
Chinese vessels have been roaming the area over which China has indisputable sovereignty, in particular, at such a time when Manila prepares to award 15 exploration contracts, including one due to start this year, edging in on China’s maritime interests.
Philippine government on Wednesday confirmed a plan to open an elementary school on Zhongye Island, part of Chinese Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. Back in March, Manila revealed it is to construct a simple wharf on the island.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin warned at a regular press briefing the Philippines to stop its petty actions that will not help resolve the ongoing standoff.
Still, the Philippines would desperately push for what it determined to have. For this, it would rather churn up the troubled waters.
While inciting the neighboring countries to side with it warding off “China’s intrusion”, Philippine president Benigno Aquino III vowed his administration is to raise international awareness on its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, crying for international support and sympathy in the disguise of being a doormat kicked around by China.
"I want to show the global community how Beijing was treating Manila," Aquino said.
And, he expects, showing the white feather, he could win a stronger US backing. Then he could pit China against the US, which wants to keep its historic military and economic hold on Asia, and add pressure on Beijing to enter negotiations, during which China would be humiliated as a bully.
Is it Manila’s one-sided wish to drag in Uncle Sam and borrow its hand to give China a slap? Hard to reply in a yes-or-no way.
Washington intends to expand its military presence in the Southeast Asian region to counter the growing military strength of China - which it considers a big threat. The expansion of US military presence in the Philippines is, therefore, pivotal to achieving its geopolitical goals and its strategic consideration of “Return to Asia”.
On this basis, the Philippine and US governments are orchestrating a campaign of deception to make the Philippine public re-embrace US military troops and favor US bases in the country, which they ousted two decades ago. All is possible just by hyping a possible war with China.
That helps explain why the Philippine government is issuing war-mongering statements and taking such aggressive actions, and why the US is showing too much eagerness to support, when in fact diplomatic means of resolving the issue have yet to be exhausted.