Thu, Feb 06, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Aquino sounds alarm over China

NOT FLATTERING:Talking about regional tensions, Benigno Aquino said the world must remember that the Sudetenland was given to Hitler in a bid to avert war

NY Times News Service, MANILA

The US is pushing for the deal to aid in its rebalance to Asia.

Speaking of the Philippines’ own tensions with the Chinese, Aquino said his country would not renounce any of its possessions in the sea between it and China.

The difficulties with China extend beyond the arguments over the South China Sea. The Hong Kong government, with enthusiastic backing from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, plans to stop allowing 14-day visa-free visits by Philippine diplomats and officials starting yesterday.

The sanctions are part of a long-running demand by Hong Kong that the Philippine government apologize over a violent episode in 2010 in which a hostage rescue attempt in Manila failed, leaving eight Hong Kong citizens dead.

In his first public response to the sanctions, Aquino said he had no plans to apologize, saying that doing so could create a legal liability and noting that China had not paid compensation to the families of Filipinos who have died in episodes there.

While recently reading about the predicament of Czechoslovakia’s leaders in the late 1930s, he said, he saw a parallel “in a sense” to his own problems now in facing challenges from China. Appeasement did not work in 1938, he said; within six months of the surrender of the Sudetenland, Germany occupied most of the rest of Czechoslovakia.

The Philippines, he said, is determined not to make similar concessions.

“You may have the might,” he said of China, “but that does not necessarily make you right.”

REACTION

Aquino made a “senseless attack” when he compared China to Nazi Germany over its territorial claims in disputed seas, Xinhua news agency said in a commentary yesterday.

His remarks “exposed his true color as an amateurish politician who was ignorant both of history and reality,” Xinhua said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said at a briefing in Manila yesterday that Aquino’s remarks were not meant to offend China.

“What we can learn from history, we can compare it to the present and ask if past events are relevant to the present,” he said.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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