By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
As the spasm in the East China Sea intensifies with Japan’s unilateral move to “nationalize” the Chinese Diaoyu Islands, tensions in the South China Sea are also ratcheting upward.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared on Wednesday that the Philippines had officially named South China Sea waters off the country’s west coast the “West Philippine Sea”, in a move that could readily be translated into something of looting a “burning house”.
Aquino also said his government would register the new name with the United Nations as part of efforts to delineate its “sovereign territory,” even those areas claimed by China or others. And an administrative order released by the presidential palace Wednesday said the “West Philippine Sea” would be included in government maps and charts.
Philippine officials, including President Aquino himself, have on various occasions pledged to settle the dispute with China through negotiation. They also expressed regret over the “missed opportunities” when a “long-awaited” meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao failed to come off.
Unfortunately, it remain unconvincing that actions of the Philippine side really match its rhetoric.
By taking provocative actions in the South China Sea themselves, the Philippines has in reality pushed China step by step to the opposite side. Perhaps, Manila does not need reminding, however, that a confrontation with China is neither in its interests nor in those of Southeast Asia.
Additionally, the growing risk of conflict is not in the interest of the global community, especially for countries that rely on peaceful passage through the South China Sea and notably those on the Pacific Rim. The global economy, already suffering from myriad challenges, cannot afford yet another layer of uncertainty.
Whether it be named in whatever way, the South China Sea is there as a realistic existence, but whether it be a peaceful and tranquil vast of water that nurtures the entire region and benefits the world, or a flash point that poses a grave security challenge to all involved, the answer counts always on human wisdom and forethought.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Philippines renaming South China Sea as West Philippine Sea can never change the fact that China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands, including the Huangyan Island, and their surrounding territorial waters in the South China Sea.
It’s reported that Philippine president Aquino announced Wednesday an administrative order to formally name the South China Sea as the "West Philippine Sea".
Asked to comment on the report, Hong said the name of South China Sea is recognized globally and also well accepted by the international community, and the United Nations.
Taiwan said it does not recognize the Philippines' renaming of the South China Sea to the West Philippine Sea, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported Wednesday.
Philippine president Benigno Aquino III issued an administrative order Wednesday, officially renaming the South China Sea to the West Philippine Sea, according to local media reports.
In an official response to Philippine’s provocative action, the Taiwanese “foreign ministry” said it upholds the basic principles of "safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint development" in the South China Sea.
Only when cooler heads prevail can the claimant countries turn their attention to resolving the longer-term question of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the disputed islands and adjacent waters, whether through negotiation, adjudication, or joint development.
The Education Ministry of Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union have recently signed an annual memorandum of cooperation, saying they would strengthen students’ awareness of the East Sea (South China Sea) sovereignty issue, Taiwan’s Central News Agency said Sept. 12, citing a report on a Vietnamese website (Vietnamnet.vn).
According to plans unveiled in the “2012-2013 Annual Cooperation Memorandum”, Vietnam will enhance young people’s awareness of their country’s “territorial claim” in the South China Sea.
Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Education and Training said the official propaganda campaign is aimed at improving both teachers and students’ political insight.
The report also added that the Thanh Nien daily, a newspaper published by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, has called on the public to make donations to buy vessels named “Chu Quyen” (literally, sovereignty) for troops stationed in islands in the South China Sea.