|China’s ambassador, Huang Xilian. (Photo from MALACAÑANG)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] MANILA— China has put the Philippines in a bind by sending a swarm of its maritime militia vessels to a reef in the West Philippine Sea where Manila would play into the hands of Beijing if it takes no action against the incursion or be portrayed as escalating tension between the two countries if it does, maritime and security experts said on Tuesday.
PH Inquirer reported that the massive deployment of over 200 Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef last month could also close the gap between two of China’s artificial islands within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and pressure the Philippines to choose to ally itself with China or the United States, they said. If there is “inaction” to the swarm, “in Beijing’s point of view that’s basically getting a victory out of it because there’s no response from the victim,” said Collin Koh, a research fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
On Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it summoned China’s ambassador, Huang Xilian, to express “displeasure over the illegal lingering presence” of the Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe. China ignored the country’s protests against the construction and land reclamation, which grew over the years to become the biggest of seven artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea.