The situation around Huangyan Island is increasingly complicated and confusing. China has declared it is withdrawing its two law enforcement vessels, but the Philippines' attitude remains tough.
The Philippine president Benigno Aquino III said his country will continue to send vessels to the waters. The Philippines has also tabled many propositions that are unacceptable to China of late, including solving the dispute through international arbitration and involving the United Nations. Meanwhile, it strongly lambastes China.
The spokesman of the Chinese embassy to the Philippines stated Monday that China's decision to withdraw its two vessels demonstrates its aim to cool the situation. We hope this will not be misinterpreted as China's top goal by Manila.
Safeguarding the sovereignty of Huangyan Island is a policy China has long insisted on and will continue to do so. China hopes to avoid the escalation of the crisis but this does not mean it will make unprincipled concessions.
The Huangyan Island crisis reflects the recklessness and arrogance of the Philippines. The Philippine navy tried to arrest Chinese fishermen and was stopped by the timely arrival of China's surveillance boats. Manila became less aggressive in the face of China's serious stance.
But the current situation is obviously not a full victory for China. Even if China uses its naval force to defeat Manila, this would not be taken as a success and the South China Sea disputes seem doomed to be endless.
At present, the Chinese public direly needs to vent its anger against provokers in the South China Sea. Manila seems to be the perfect target. But this is only a social impulse and cannot become the decisive factor of China's South China Sea policy.
The challenges China has to deal with in the region are rather complicated. Making official policies on the disputes and implementing them pose great difficulty.
China should not let Manila control the disputes between the two countries. China cannot afford that. China should respond flexibly to the South China Sea disputes but make its principles and basic line crystal clear.
China should use Huangyan Island crisis to bring shame on Manila this time. The Philippine society should know that once they initiate a crisis targeting China, the development and results will never be decided by themselves.
It is nothing new that Manila's views are being echoed by Western public opinion.
However, these voices don't have real value in international politics. China shouldn't overly care about them. Its domestic public opinion and feelings are more important.
China should be patient and persevere in the South China Sea disputes. It has law enforcement maritime forces, and the most attractive economic opportunities of the world. How should Manila deal with China? It should decide for itself.