While the tree craves calm, the wind will not subside. This is a proverb the Chinese media frequently quoted last year when commenting on the rifts between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea. At the start of the new year, the wind from Manila is again blowing in the wrong direction, as politicians in the country have made irresponsible remarks that will stir up new tensions in the disputed waters.
On Wednesday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario asked China to explain its deployment of a patrol ship to guard islands and waters in the South China Sea, saying the move has sparked new tensions over the disputed waters. This is a false accusation and Manila's top diplomat should not forget that his own country raised the tensions in the disputed waters in the first place last year.
In April, a Filipino warship harassed Chinese fishermen who were fishing around Huangyan Island, which belongs to China. China's marine surveillance fleet had to rescue them. The incident triggered a standoff between Chinese surveillance ships and Filipino vessels and drove Sino-Philippine ties to their lowest ebb for years.
The more frequent presence of Chinese marine surveillance ships in these waters since then has been a response to Manila's provocative moves. The State Oceanic Administration, which is responsible for overseeing and safeguarding national maritime rights and interests, said on Thursday that it will continue to carry out regular patrols in China's territorial waters in the East China and South China seas. It is a normal practice for a sovereign state to patrol its territorial waters. Instead of feeling uncomfortable about it, Manila had better get use to it.
Also on Wednesday, Del Rosario said the Philippine government is mulling turning some of the disputed Nansha Islands into tourist destinations. The Philippine military had already said that the country may build infrastructure on them. All these constitute an open defiance to China's sovereignty as China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters and opposes any move that could impair China's sovereignty.
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