The Philippines will surely pay greater price if its provocations continue

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2024-03-31 22:22:28

By Ding Duo

Recently, the Philippines once again tried to illegally transport construction materials to its warship illegally grounded at Ren'ai Jiao in China's Nansha Qundao, but was intercepted by the China Coast Guard (CCG) in accordance with the law. As pointed out by relevant Chinese authorities, the Philippines' actions violated China's territorial sovereignty over Ren'ai Jiao in the Nansha Qundao, violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and undermined regional peace and stability.

The Philippines disregarded China's patience, goodwill, and restraint on relevant issues, as well as the understandings reached at the operational level on dispute management and its own commitments to this domain. Its behaviors fully demonstrated that the country lacks credibility and reputation.

The recent actions by the Marcos government regarding the South China Sea issue revealed various underlying motivations. 

First, the Philippines has been illegally coveting the relevant islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao for a long time. The only difference lies in the infringement methods and cover methods adopted at different times. 

Second, encouraged by the Biden administration to strengthen the US-Phillipine alliance, the Philippines has adjusted its South China Sea policy under Washington’s pressure and inducement, and is becoming increasingly adventurous and speculative. 

Third, after the illegal award in the South China Sea arbitration case was released, the Philippines has been trying to "confirm" it through various methods and used the award to endorse its illegal claims and provocative maritime actions in the South China Sea. 

Fourth, to divert domestic conflicts, the Philippine government needs to continue to stir up maritime tensions to create a "foreign enemy" and ease the pressure on governance due to prominent domestic problems such as high inflation rate, high unemployment rate, and drug flooding. 

Fifth, the Philippines is worried that the results of this year's US election may have an impact on the US-Philippines alliance, so it is trying to test or drag down Washington by creating maritime friction to see what substantive security guarantees the US can provide.

It should be noted that the Philippines' mentality of engaging in "low-intensity" struggles in the so-called "gray areas" with China and attempting to take advantage may persist for some time, even during the whole term of the Marcos administration. Correspondingly, at the cognitive and legal level, the Philippines, including the US and the West, will most likely not stop maliciously hyping and slandering China in international public opinion arenas and on bilateral and multilateral international maritime-related occasions. 

On the other hand, the Philippine public has less and less constraints on its government's provocations against China on the South China Sea issue. The "pro-US and anti-China" stance of Marcos' core decision-making team is obvious. In this context, the Philippine Coast Guard, Department of National Defense, National Security Council, and other government agencies of the Philippines, out of consideration of their respective political interests, have stopped thinking about what is most beneficial to China-Philippines relations and the stability of the South China Sea. Objective and rational voices are increasingly difficult to appear in the Philippines.

China has always remained highly vigilant against Philippine maritime provocations and is prepared to respond accordingly. The Philippines should not harbor any illusions in this regard. The Chinese people believe that it is important to judge people by both their words and deeds. If the Philippines does not keep its word, China will take strong countermeasures accordingly.

As maritime frictions heat up, the Philippines and some countries have conducted joint naval and air patrols and bilateral and multilateral military exercises, resulting in the accumulation of military forces in the South China Sea, which will not only bring discomfort to ASEAN countries but may also intensify the resurgence of Cold War mentality and lead to group confrontation in the South China Sea. This is something that regional countries do not want to see, and it needs to be resisted by ASEAN countries and China in a joint manner.

Judging from historical experience and regional reality, the negative consequences of the Philippines' "set the fox to keep the geese" will eventually be borne by regional countries, ASEAN countries need to remain vigilant about this. It is crucial to the long-term peace and stability of the South China Sea and the interests of regional countries that relevant disputes are negotiated directly between China and the countries concerned, and peace and stability in the South China Sea are jointly maintained by China and ASEAN countries.

(The author is deputy director at the Research Center for Ocean Law and Policy at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.)

Editor's note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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