by Xinhua Writer Zhu Dongyang
BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- In a reckless move that further undermined the peace of South China Sea, Manila went ahead with a premeditated plot to provoke Beijing in a vain wish to infringe upon China's sovereignty.
Last week, Philippine police detained 11 Chinese fishermen and their boat near China's Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea on the grounds that they poached sea turtles.
But no matter the allegation was true or not, Manila was wrong in the first place because China has indisputable sovereign rights over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters, including the Half Moon Shoal, where the incident occurred.
Thus any actions taken by the Philippines against the Chinese fishermen are illegal and invalid and would be regarded as direct infringements of China's sovereignty.
The timing of the incident is tricky, as it happened not long after U.S. President Barack Obama's recent visit to Manila, during which the two sides reasserted their military alliance.
The provocation also came days before the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), during which the emboldened Philippines, together with Vietnam, launched a failed bid to pit the regional bloc against Beijing over territory claims.
The Manila-Hanoi cohort evokes reminiscence of a Philippine naval delegation's beer drinking and volleyball playing with Vietnamese sailors in the South China Sea in April, widely read by the media as the two countries' budding nascent partnership amid their growing row with Beijing over contested waters.
But that kind of ill-disposed joint venture is built on shaky grounds and is doomed to fail.
While reiterating calls for peaceful settlement of the dispute and joint development of resources, China has also made it clear that it is confident and capable of countering challenges to its territorial and sovereign integrity.
All parties should also be reminded that ignorance of China's resolve to defend its sovereign land will induce consequences too severe for certain countries to bear.
Meanwhile, the wish to maintain regional peace and stability is shared by China and the majority of ASEAN members.
The United States, which is strengthening military alliance with Manila and has a huge stake in the region's stability, should comply with its promise to leave the countries concerned to settle their differences through bilateral talks.
Instead of spoiling its increasingly-paranoid junior ally and muddying the waters, Washington should keep Manila within bounds and try not to stir up tensions by backing it in territorial dispute.
After all, it won't serve Washington's interests if the dispute in the South China Sea spins out of control.