Evidence abounds that Manila remains obsessed with playing the role of troublemaker in the South China Sea. In its latest attempt to raise tensions over Huangyan Island, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that his country may ask the United States to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea.
This clearly shows Manila is determined to drag Washington into its maritime disputes with China. By seeking backup from the US in its quarrel with Beijing, Manila has ignored the goodwill shown by Beijing and is trying hard to complicate the issue.
High-ranking US officials have made it clear that their country does not want to take sides in the South China Sea issue. However, despite Washington's denial that its strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region is a move to contain China, Manila has chosen to try and embroil the US in its provoking of China.
The Philippines may not be the only country in the region cherishing the fantasy of profiting from a zero-sum game between the US and China. Indeed, some are upfront about their desire to contain China. Yet neither Beijing nor Washington wants the worst-case scenario these smaller countries are pinning their hopes on.
In the past month, the waters around Huangyan Island in the South China Sea have been peaceful thanks to the fishing moratoriums imposed by China and the Philippines. But the Philippines has said it will end its fishing moratorium early and its navy may escort Philippine fishing boats in the waters around Huangyan Island, a move that would inevitably increase tensions.
Manila has also said it will raise the issue of the South China Sea when foreign ministers from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet next week in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Manila wants ASEAN to endorse its illegal claims and stand against China.
Manila has tried in vain on several occasions to sow discord between China and ASEAN. Now it is again attempting to hijack the regional organization and impose its own agenda on it.
Should Manila persist with its ridiculous antics and provocations, the dispute may easily escalate beyond the control of diplomats.
Manila should stop stirring up trouble and respect the peace and stability of the region.
(China Daily 07/04/2012 page8)