Opinion / Web Comments

China will stand up for its people

By Chen Xiangyang (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2013-05-14 21:35

On May 9, about 170 nautical miles off the southern tip of Taiwan, the Philippine coastguard fired on the registered fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, killing 65-year-old fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng.

Immediately following the killing, the Philippine coastguard added insult to their deplorable behavior by stating that the incident took place "in Philippine waters" and that their personnel were "carrying out their duty" to "stop illegal fishing". Commander Armand Balilo, a spokesman of Philippine coastguard, even said that "if somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology".

Ma Ying-jeou, leader of Taiwan, angrily condemned the "uncivilized acts" of the Philippines in his statement. People on the Chinese mainland are angry at such piracy, too. The Chinese mainland has on various occasions expressed deep concern at the incident, as well as demanding justice.

Facing firm opposition from both Taiwan and the mainland, even what was described as an "ultimatum" from the former, the Philippine government issued a statement on Sunday expressing "sympathies and condolences" to the family of the victim. However, no formal apology was issued.

The Philippine government must face pressure to get to the root of this obvious crime.

The incident might help enhance cross-Straits relations. Within Taiwan, there have always been short-sighted groups that are easily lured by short-term interests. An example of this was the recent fishery agreement with Japan to the detriment of the entire nation.

The killing will show the need for a coordinated response.

Taiwan should deepen dialogue with the mainland for unifying against possible common threats in the future.

The Chinese mainland's policy towards the Philippines will possibly be influenced, too. Actually, this old neighbor has been quite unfriendly to China in the past few years.

In 2010, after nine Chinese Hong Kong residents were killed in a hostage crisis in Manila, the Philippine president smiled at the press conference; in 2012 Philippine coastguard harassed Chinese fishermen near Huangyan Island, and Manila filed a lawsuit to the international tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Now it is once again challenging China.

The only reason for Philippines' repeated provocation is its alliance with the US.

Sticking to the grand strategy of "peaceful development", China always tends to restrain itself in disputes with neighbors, but it will think differently if facing repeated obvious provocations. Leaving these challenges unanswered is not a way to protect its people's interests.

Economic sanctions, like tightening goods and labor imports from the Philippines, are favored. But China needs better immediate protection of its maritime interests.

China is making progress in strengthening maritime surveillance as well as accelerating naval modernization.

The Philippines should stop challenging China's determination to protect its people.

The author is a senior researcher on world politics from China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

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