Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Monday he may ask the US to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea to help monitor disputed waters in the region. The US Department of State did not say whether the US will respond to the request.
The Philippines suffered a setback during the Huangyan Island conflict with China, but it will not back down on the issue. China will be pestered by the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries over the South China Sea for a long time.
The world has entered a stage in which small countries can make trouble for big powers. If these island disputes had happened in imperial times, they would have been handled in a much easier way. China may have many ways to teach the Philippines a lesson, but we must not easily use them.
This does not mean China is showing weakness. The US, the most powerful country in the world, has the strength to strike those countries it deems as "evil," but it has to seek approval from the international community.
The Philippines and Vietnam do deserve to be punished. If they go to extremes in their provocations against China, it is likely that they will finally be punished through means including military strikes. However, China definitely will be very cautious in making such decisions.
The world today is very complicated, and the international environment is undergoing profound changes. China has many strategic opportunities, but is also faced with many dilemmas.
China is a country with great development potential. This determines not only China's strategic potential, but also the current international system's continued restraint of China.
The public is becoming increasingly confused over what China's most pressing issues are. Chinese frictions with neighboring countries have been a major focus of foreign affairs in recent years, but such frictions do not pose a strategic threat to China.
The key point that can decide China's future is obviously not the same as what public opinion is most concerned about.
A country should clarify its thoughts and firmly follow them, but this is easier said than done, because its development will face constant domestic and foreign disturbances.
The Philippines and Vietnam are obviously disturbing China. They are not part of China's international political ambitions, but China must not let their disturbance go unchecked.
The right policy might be to tell them our bottom line and avoid a war of words with them, but teach them an unforgettable lesson when it is time to hit back.