China’s state media: punish Philippines for siding with US

BEIJING (MindaNews/29 January) – China’s state media on Sunday called on its government to punish the Philippines by cutting off economic ties following news reports that the Philippine government is offering its island country to beef up the presence of US forces amid tensions in the South China Sea.

In its editorial titled “Make Philippines pay for balancing act,” the Global Times, one of several newspapers owned by the Communist Party of China, said the Philippines should be sanctioned and China should aggressively “respond” to the recent “maneuver.”

“The Philippines is a suitable target to impose such a punishment. A reasonable yet powerful enough sanction can be considered. It should show China’s neighboring area that balancing China by siding with the US is not a good choice,” it said in its editorial published as the banner of the newspaper’s website.

The Chinese government has not officially released its statement on the issue – usually released through its foreign affairs Ministry — due to the week-long observance of the Lunar New Year.

“Well-measured sanctions against the Philippines will make it ponder the choice of losing a friend such as China and being a vain partner with the US,” the strongly worded editorial added.

Global Times said one of China’s options is to “consider cooling down its business ties with the Philippines.”

“One step forward in military collaboration with the US means a step backward in economic cooperation with China. In the long run, China may also use its economic leverage to cut economic activities between ASEAN countries and the Philippines,” it said.

This is not the first time that a state media in China urged its government to impose economic sanctions against the Philippines. In November last year, an editorial of the Communist Party mouthpiece,  the People’s Daily, said the Philippines should  “pay the price” for asserting in putting the South China Sea issue in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Summit at the island resort Bali in Indonesia.

“China could postpone the implementation of investment agreements. Chinese people could reject traveling to the Philippines and China should decrease imports from the Philippines,” it has said.

The same paper earlier this month criticized the planed military drill between Philippines and US soldiers.

It said the US, which is an outside power, “should work with all parties concerned to prevent tensions from getting out of control, rather than support one side or the other.”

China continues to be the Philippines’ third largest trading partner with last year’s two-way trade value posting a record-breaking value of 32- billion US dollars, China’s General Administration of Customs records showed.

China, along with Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have their own claims in the resource rich South China Sea or West Philippine Sea. Efforts were made to solve the dispute but strong national interests have hampered any positive developments in the talks.

The Philippines, Vietnam and China have traded accusations in the past months over the dispute.

Each country has showed its willingness to resolve the issue but the mode of solving the issue differs. The Chinese government wants the issue solved through direct bilateral talks, while the Philippines would rather bring the subject to the United Nations.

The US Energy Information Administration has estimated that oil consumption in the developing Asian economies will rise annually by 2.7% from 14.8 million barrels per day to around 29.8 by 2030 with China expected to account for almost 50% of the growth demand.

The area of Spartly islands alone is estimated to have 90 million cubic meters of natural gas and 440 million barrels of oils. The patches of islands are also being claimed –wholly or partly– by other ASEAN nations notably Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.

A confidential report released a by private risk and assessment firm said that “protracted multilateral territorial dispute is the foremost stumbling block in efforts to commercially develop oil and gas reserves in the region.” (Darwin Wally T. Wee/MindaNews)