Commentary: The Philippine's dual tactics doomed to fail

Updated: 2013-08-29 22:38:00


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BEIJING, August 29 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines is playing dual tactics in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

On the one hand, the Philippines earlier this year referred the dispute in the South China Sea to a United Nations tribunal for arbitration by adopting a so-called "soft-hand" strategy.

On the other hand, Manila is pursuing a "hard-line" approach by begging military help from the United States and even Japan. In response, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel later Thursday flew to the Philippines, aiming to seal a deal to increase rotational U.S. troop deployments in the Philippines.

The dual tactics have shown Manila's a deliberate attempt to seek by all means to occupy islands and reefs owned by other countries in the South China Sea, and such tactics are doomed to fail.

For the "soft-hand" tactics of pushing for arbitration in The Hague, the move is a sheer distortion of international law, which is a wrong approach to resolving the dispute.

The core issue of the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines is the illegal occupation by the Philippines of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha islands. Therefore, there is no legal basis for the Philippines to raise such claims.

While the territorial disputes concerning those islands and reefs are still pending, the compulsory dispute settlement procedures as contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should not apply.

Moreover, back in 2006, the Chinese government made a declaration in pursuance of UNCLOS, excluding disputes regarding such matters as those related to maritime delimitation from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures, including arbitration. This declaration is legitimate, public and effective, which deserves due respect.

For the hard-line approach, apart from seeking more U.S. military presence, Manila is upgrading its own navy by purchasing 10 new patrol boats from Japan.

However, history has repeatedly proven that seeking outside military intervention would be not only counterproductive to resolving disputes with neighbors, but also harmful to itself in the end.

In short, by playing the dual tactics, Manila will achieve nothing.

The right approach for Manila to take is to sit down and hold bilateral talks and consultations with China to resolve the dispute peacefully.

This will be the only feasible and appropriate option for the Philippines to ensure its own interests.