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Double act's deceptions dangerously staged

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-25 19:48

Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looks on as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, March 19, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

To encroach upon China's territorial integrity and maritime interests, the Philippines has employed many tricks in recent months, including playing the role of victim. Dressing itself up as an underdog standing up to a bully is a tactic it has repeatedly used in recent months in a bid to mislead the international community.

The remarks of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Sunday reflect such a mentality. In a visit to the headquarters of the Philippine South China Sea forces on Palawan island, Marcos said his country "will not be intimidated" and will "continue to exercise our freedoms and rights in support of our national interest, in accordance with international law".

While he did not mention China, Marcos was clearly responding to last week's clash between China Coast Guard ships and Philippine vessels near Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea. Video footage shows it happened when Philippine ships deliberately and dangerously approached the Chinese vessels, despite repeated warnings from the Chinese side.

To some extent, the clash on June 17 was inevitable as the Philippines has repeatedly staged provocations in the waters adjacent to the Chinese reef since last year. By sending supplies and building materials to it, Manila's ultimate purpose is to extend the life of the rotting warship that it deliberately grounded on the reef in 1999.

Facing Manila's incessant provocations, Beijing is obliged to respond with countermeasures. Yet these lawful responses are deliberately distorted by Manila, which seeks to portray them as intimidation so that it can play up its portrayal of the Philippines as the victim in the South China Sea disputes.

Marcos did mention in his speech that his country is not in the business of instigating wars and it wants to "settle all these issues peacefully". But such remarks simply sound hollow and even hypocritical as his country is the one that has unilaterally raised tensions over the disputes.

With the covert and overt support of the United States, the Philippines has been pumping enmity into the tense atmosphere that has been produced by its provocative make-a-splash-and-grab antics at Ren'ai Reef, making it a potential flashpoint for a head-on conflict with China. How can the Philippine leader still have the nerve to claim his country wants to resolve the disputes peacefully?

Marcos said his country will continue to assert its rights in accordance with international law. If that is the case, his country should first and foremost observe the treaties that define its territory, including the 1898 Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, and abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. By colluding with the US, a country renowned for going back on its words and ignoring international law and treaties, in this way, the Philippines cannot expect to win global sympathy. Its scheme to deceive the world only brings shame on itself.

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