The one and a half-page statement of the Chinese Embassy’s spokesman in The Manila Times April 2 issue and the 12-page statement given to Philippine media contained accusations against the Philippine government that were expected. But they were distortions of the truth.
We will only dwell on a few points in this editorial.
First, on “PH tarnishing Beijing’s international image”—which was the headline of the Inquirer story— we are amazed that the Philippine act of filing a case for international arbitration is seen as tarnishing the People’s Republic’s image. It was China, after all, that has taken over our shoals and reefs, water-cannonaded our fishermen done other menacing acts, and violated our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
With China insisting on bilateral negotiations, the dispute will never be resolved because it will never give up its claims of sovereignty over our territory and we, Filipinos, are also resolved never to give up our sovereignty.
Our only recourse is to go to the higher authority and rely on the rule of law.
But China does not accept the international laws governing the disputes.
The Chinese Embassy spokesman claims that we, Filipinos and our government, are tarnishing its good image abroad.
It is like a neighbor who claims to own a part of your yard and enters your property and posts sentries around the part he is claiming. So you have no recourse but to run to the police and the prosecutors to report what the neighbor has done and to seek the return of your property. Of course, the entire community deplores your neighbor’s action. And news that you have sued the offending neighbor is in the papers and on radio and TV broadcasts.
Your neighbor should not claim that you are tarnishing his image because you have sued him and legally seeks to get back the part of your yard that he has taken over.
China of course maintains that it owns the entire South China Sea and rests this claim on history. The fact, however, is that Malay seamen—the future Filipinos, Malaysians and Indonesians were the first seamen who plied these waters, not the Chinese whose voyages were even later in some instances than those of the Europeans.
“The Philippines’ arbitration proceeding completely confuses right and wrong, distorts the fact and diverts attentions. The aim of its move is to cover up the illegal nature of Philippines’ infringement and provocative behavior by the abuse of process against China, and to defraud the international community of its sympathy and support. Recently by submitting the memorial to the arbitral tribunal, the Philippine side has launched a media campaign to smear the Chinese side by playing up the South China Sea issue and the arbitration proceeding. All these willful acts exposed the real motives of the Philippines’ pushing for the arbitration proceeding.”
And the succeeding paragraph tells the reader what the real motive is: “to attempt to deny China sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters.”
But, of course, that is one of the aims. We claim that the Spratlys—which is Nansha to the Chinese—are ours.
We hope despite these exchange of barbs Philippine-Chinese relations will be more pleasant in other departments of life.