Facing this complex dispute, China first needs cool-headedness. A hasty decision may cause more troubles. Addressing the South China Sea issue is set to be a long and arduous process. This is already a geopolitical reality that China faces. China should try to seize more initiative in this process, rather than being led by other regional players.
China should be prepared to engage in a small-scale war at sea with the Philippines. Once the war erupts, China must take resolute action and deliver a clear message to the outside world that it does not want a war, but definitely has no fear of it. Nevertheless, such a war cannot put the South China Sea issue to an end.
Manila's arrogance is becoming the most evident challenge China faces in the South China Sea. China needs to come up with all kinds of economic and political counter measures, so as to make sure that Manila suffers much more than it gains and the role it plays is not at all appealing to other Asian countries.
China is already at the geo-economic center of Asia, but still appears passive geopolitically. It is impractical to make the two systems totally overlap at the moment, but China should prevent them from being poles apart.
Cold treatment to Manila should last for a certain period. China needs to undertake losses from ensuing sanctions on Manila. Protecting islands in the South China Sea is not an empty slogan. It calls for our patience, costs and perseverance.