After being enmeshed in the Bo Xilai incident and the Chen Guangcheng escape to the U.S. Embassy for a few months, last week, Beijing took a tougher stance against the Philippines on the issue of the sovereignty of Huangyan Island (known as the Scarborough Shoal internationally) in the South China Sea. Both China and the Philippines claim ownership of the area; in the past month, the tension between the two countries has been escalating, including the involvement of navy ships.
On May 7, Fu Ying, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs called a meeting with Alex Chua, Charge D’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in China. Fu made a serious representation over the current situation at Huangyan Island. She stated that the Chinese side has made all necessary preparations to respond in case the Philippine side caused the situation to escalate.
On May 8, People’s Daily published a commentary titled “When it is intolerable, there is no need for restraint. China does not mind creating a Huangyan Island Model.” It stated, “When others challenge us, especially on matters related to territorial integrity, national dignity, and social stability, we must take action to destroy this ‘unhealthy trend’ and win ourselves a harmonious and stable environment.” “There is a limit to how much generosity we can demonstrate. When it’s intolerable, then there is no need for restraint.” “Facing this opponent, we have enough wisdom and also enough means to make it surrender without a war.” Though the article used the words, "make it surrender without a war," the entire tone of the article hinted at a direct confrontation with the Philippines.
Sources: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, May 8, 2012
Peoples’ Daily, May 8, 2012