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Philippines' three-pronged plan for South China Sea doomed to fail

2014-08-13 11:08:58       source:Global Times

By Wu Shicun

August 12, 2014

The Philippines proposed a three-part plan to resolve the South China Sea dispute at the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Myanmar's capital city of Nay Pyi Taw.

The triple-action plan, according to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, is composed of actions in the immediate, medium and final stages. It includes a freeze on all activities that raise tensions in disputed waters in the South China Sea, the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), the formulation of a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and an international arbitration case against China.

It seems that the three-pronged approach by the Philippines aims at alleviating the escalated tensions and controlling the unfolding crisis over the South China Sea. However, Manila is using it to lead public opinion astray and disguise its own political purpose.

It is the Philippines that has always been a major provocateur to aggravate the bitter situation in the South China Sea. In as early as May 1999, the Philippine government sent an old tank-landing ship on the Ren'ai Reef off China's Nansha Islands, and since then has scuttled it there illegally, citing "leakage" and "technical reasons."

The Chinese government has on many occasions lodged solemn protests against Manila, who once pledged to tow the clunker away and promised that it would never become the first country to violate the DOC on the issue of the Ren'ai Reef.

Nevertheless, Manila later refused to haul it away, but instead attempted to repair it and used it to transport steel and cement to build facilities on the reef, in a bid to maintain its permanent presence there.

Its conduct has breached its own commitment and the DOC as well. It is fair to say that Manila has no sincerity at all on the South China Sea issue.

Furthermore, China and ASEAN member states signed the DOC in 2002 as a mechanism to resolve the territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

According to Article 4, "the parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned."

Nonetheless, Manila took the dispute to UN Tribunal in January 2013, breaching the spirit of the DOC again.

To safeguard regional peace and stability, Beijing will, as always, advocate the resolution to the territorial and marine demarcation dispute through peaceful negotiations based on historical facts.

Therefore, the Chinese government submitted a written statement to the UN Secretariat, clearly declaring that, on issues of territorial sovereignty, marine demarcation and military activities, it refuses to accept any international justice or arbitration.

But the Philippines ignored Beijing's goodwill and restraint, posing a provocation to China's sovereignty and a contravention of the principle of the DOC.

Generally, Manila's triple-action plan echoes the freeze plan put forward by Washington, both attempting to play the role of responsible countries in the international community.

But both of their proposals met with cold shoulders at the gathering of ASEAN foreign ministers.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi envisioned a dual-track approach, namely relevant disputes being addressed by countries directly concerned through friendly consultations and negotiations and in a peaceful way, and peace and stability in the South China Sea being jointly maintained by China and ASEAN countries. This has been positively responded to by most participants.

It can always be expected that justice will finally prevail.