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Philippines moves in wrong direction (2)

By Wang Hui (China Daily)

09:55, January 14, 2013

If Manila takes further steps in this regard, it is sure to meet with strong opposition as well as countermeasures from China. It is now crystal clear that Manila is determined to play the role of a troublemaker and seeks every opportunity to escalate tensions in the South China Sea.

To confront China over the issue, Manila has painstakingly enlisted support from other countries, including some from outside the region. Last year, it took steps to strengthen its military alliance with the United States, with the intention that once its disputes with China slip out of control the sole superpower will be dragged into a head-on confrontation with China.

The Philippines has also pledged support to Japan, which wants to play a bigger role in the region, and has proposed bilateral maritime security cooperation. On Thursday, after a meeting with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Del Rosario said they discussed Japanese help in improving the Philippines' coastguard capability.

According to Del Rosario, the Philippines is seriously considering acquiring 10 new patrol boats from Japan through soft loans or loans that have low interest rates with flexible payment terms under Japan's Official Development Assistance.

However, with Japan being involved in its own dispute with China over the Diaoyu Islands and the strong anti-Japanese sentiments in Philippine society, how far Manila and Tokyo can enhance their strategic partnership is open to question.

And neither country should make strategic misjudgment and underestimate China's determination to safeguard its territorial waters.

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