Even on China's nationwide and joyous Spring Festival, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III did not forget to disgust its northern neighbor by playing old tricks.
During an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Aquino compared Philippines' territorial conflict with China in the South China Sea to the confrontation between the former Czechoslovakia and Germany before WWII.
He even called on the international community to support his country, and warned China will not be appeased like Europe once did to Nazi Germany.
The South China Sea has witnessed growing tensions between China and the Philippines in recent years. Spats between the two nations seem to have demonstrated that the Philippines, a major claimant of this region, is becoming much more skilful at engaging China by using tactics specifically enjoyed by smaller and weaker nations.
By playing a disadvantaged side and hyping up its status as a "victim," Manila has tried to impress the international community that it was "bullied" by a giant and powerful neighbor. After soliciting universal sympathy, Manila puts China, whose claims are on a legitimate basis, in a de facto disadvantaged position.
By resorting to this tricky approach, the Philippines is grabbing benefits, petty or large, with the backing of the US and other countries who have ambitions in this area.
Manila wishes that the influence of this supposedly regional and bilateral issue could be amplified internationally so the dispute would remain in focus for the long term.
This is also in line with the interests of the US, which is pivoting much of its strength to Asia to contain China's rise. The Philippines, a pawn stationed at the frontline, can aid Uncle Sam to effectuate its strategy.
It can be concluded that, although honesty and dialogue are always called for, the Philippines never intends to pave a road to address territorial issues in a positive manner. On the contrary, it tries every means to make these regional disputes more complicated and internationalized.
Manila had better notice that opposing China has made it gradually marginalized in this area, especially in ASEAN countries.
Manila must have found it increasingly difficult to participate in China-ASEAN affairs. China is speeding up its pace to enhance economic cooperation and political talks with ASEAN countries without this archipelago state.
It is high time for Manila to reevaluate its China policy as it is going too far away from the positive process. If still stranded by these tricky tactics, Manila will probably fall victim to such clumsy cleverness, suffering much larger losses compared to the benefits it has grabbed.