China bluster targets Philippines
China's state media warned on Saturday that a "counterstrike" against the Philippines was inevitable if it continues to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea, potentially Asia's biggest military troublespot.China is engaged in the same kind of aggression that led Japan into disaster in World War II. It appears ready to fight a combination of states in its aggressive campaign to seize assets. Its military is also engaged in the same jingoistic pursuits as the prewar Japanese military. China is now aggressively challenging Japan too.
The warning comes as ministers from both countries attend an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Brunei, starting Saturday, which hopes to reach a legally binding code of conduct to manage maritime conduct in disputed areas.
At stake are potentially massive offshore oil reserves. The seas also lie on shipping lanes and fishing grounds.
Both China and the Philippines have been locked in a decades-old territorial squabble over the South China Sea, with tensions flaring after the Philippines moved new soldiers and supplies last week to a disputed coral reef, prompting Beijing to condemn Manila's "illegal occupation".
The overseas edition of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, said in a front-page commentary that the Philippines had committed "seven sins" in the South China Sea.
These include the "illegal occupation" of the Spratly Islands, inviting foreign capital to engage in oil and gas development in the disputed waters and promoting the "internationalization" of the waters, said the commentary.
The Philippines has called on the United States to act as a "patron", while ASEAN has become an "accomplice," said the commentary, which does not amount to official policy but can reflect the government's thinking.
"The Philippines, knowing that it's weak, believes that 'a crying child will have milk to drink'," the People's Daily said, accusing Manila of resorting to many "unscrupulous" tricks in the disputed waters.
Beijing's assertion of sovereignty over a vast stretch of the South China Sea has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to other parts of the sea.