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The Philippines blindly upping the ante by betting on US backing for its brinkmanship: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-27 20:59

Ren'ai Reef [File photo/chinanews.com.cn]

The record of the law enforcement actions taken by the China Coast Guard so far this year shows that two-fourths of them have been in response to provocations by the Philippines.

In February alone, the CCG released at least five notices or statements on measures that it had been forced to take because of the Philippines' provocative activities around Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea, namely Huangyan Island and Ren'ai Reef.

Taking advantage of the restraint China has shown, the Philippines has sent its coast guard ships, government vessels and fishing boats to repeatedly trespass into waters adjacent to Huangyan Island. It has also repeatedly and with increasing frequency attempted to send building materials to reinforce the disintegrating warship it illegally grounded on China's Ren'ai Reef in 1999.

No country would sit idle in the face of such blatant provocations and infringements on its territorial integrity.

The Foreign Ministry's confirmation that China has recently reinstalled a barrier at the mouth of Huangyan Island in the South China Sea should drive home the message that China has both the resolve and the capability to counter the provocative intrusions by the Philippines.

In response to a related question on Monday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said China was compelled to take such measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity and maritime rights, and that Manila bears all the blame for the latest escalation of tensions, which is the outcome of its imprudent bravado.

It is no secret that much of the Philippines' newly found brio stems from the support of the United States, which is seeking to use the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China to advance its own strategic goals in the region.

It is at the incitement of Washington that Manila has recklessly upped the ante with its antics in the South China Sea since last year.

Hence, the latest measure taken by China near Huangyan Island is fully justified and necessary.

Manila should recognize it is a clear warning that it should stop playing with fire.

Both Manila and Washington should not be lulled into the false sense of security that their games are without risks. They are rashly raising the stakes by continuously ratcheting up tensions in the South China Sea. Both would suffer consequences from a head-on clash with China, no matter what the scale.

Back in 2012, Manila did not gain any advantage from unilaterally stoking tensions on Huangyan Island, which led to a standoff with China in the waters that lasted for weeks.

It will also fail to benefit from its doubled-down roguery this time. It will pay a dear price if it continues to bet on the US' aggressive wagering in the South China Sea for its brinkmanship with China.

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