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Breaking the gentleman’s agreement is ungentlemanly

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Ren'ai Reef (File photo)

On the calm South China Sea scattered with uninhabited shoals and reefs, cargo vessels loaded with containers move about every day. The tranquil waters host a vibrant array of marine species and sustain dynamic international trade and commerce, connecting regional countries with the outside world.

On March 23, a supply vessel and two Coast Guard vessels of the Philippines broke the peace and tranquility as they intruded into the adjacent waters of Ren’ai Jiao, a shoal that has long been China’s territory. They were heading toward the shoal in the name of resupplying necessities to a rusty warship which was illegally grounded there by the Philippines 25 years ago and is still garrisoned with troops. Ignoring the frequent reminders and restrained measures of China Coast Guard, the Philippine ship was determined to reach the shoal, but failed.

A drama full of crafty deception

Videos have shown that the supply vessel was actually carrying construction materials not food. The apparent purpose was to repair and reinforce the grounded warship, so that it could be some sort of outpost and give the Philippines a de facto permanent presence on Ren’ai Jiao.

What’s more intriguing is that on board the vessels were also Philippine journalists and media representatives from third countries busy taking footage. The “fruits of their labor,” as past experience shows, are usually stories about how China was purportedly “intimidating smaller countries.”

But they did not realize that broadcasting the whole scripted drama to the world only produced proof of how the Philippines breaks promises and plays the victim.

A commitment never fulfilled

A man is only as good as his word. The same also holds true for a nation. In 1999 the Philippines made a promise to China that it would tow away its “accidentally” grounded warship, not reinforce the vessel, and inform China in advance of its resupply plans. China, out of humanitarian consideration and with patience and goodwill, has made special arrangements for Philippine vessels sending living necessities so that the Philippines can fulfill its commitment and tow away the warship one day. Once a commitment is made, either by an individual or by an authority, it has a binding force. To honor the commitment is the easiest and best way to win respect. So simple a logic as it is, but some just wouldn’t get it right.

Besides the bilateral agreement, countries in the region also have a consensus. It is clearly stipulated in Article 5 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), jointly signed by China and ASEAN countries in 2002, that “the Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.” By acting in the opposite way, the Philippines went back on its words to all the other parties to the DOC and turned out to be untrustworthy in the eyes of its neighbors.

A self-defeating game

It seems that the Philippines does not care about trust from its neighbors. Despite concerns and criticisms from neighboring countries, President Marcos met with President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio to announce a military exercise among other things at the summit, which has created tensions in the region and public concern in the Philippines itself. Quite a lot of Filipinos oppose the increase of US military presence in the country and regard it as endangering the Philippines’ efforts to pursue neutrality.

Keeping diplomatic independence has long been regarded as a matter of national dignity by the Philippine people. However, it’s pathetic that the Philippine government is eager to turn itself from a dignified, independent nation into a pawn of the US, its former colonizer, and a potential ally of Japan, its erstwhile enemy which committed crimes against the Philippine people during World War II. As an old Chinese saying goes, “Those who like to go to war will perish; those who forget war will be in danger.” Apparently, the US wants the Philippines to go to war and Japan wants it to forget war. Then where has the Philippines’ neutrality gone?

For certain members of the international community, going back on one’s own words and denying existing agreements with others may seem trivial or even a habit. However, this behavior will only result in losing respect and facing protest and friction from others. It is not wise to turn a small problem, which should have been solved successfully between gentlemen, into big trouble. It is a miscalculation for the Philippines to try to gain some privilege in the manner of a rogue. And it is more than stupid to try to bring in an eagle so that it could prey on those living in the region.

Source: Global Times

Editor’s note: The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for Global Times and publishing as it is from Global Times. He can be reached at xinping604@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Maldives News Network or Global Times.

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China: Will advance cooperation with Maldives while respecting its sovereignty

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Bater, Vice Chairman of the 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) the political advisory board in the People’s Republic of China, has affirmed that Chinese government will respect and support Maldives’ sovereignty while advancing cooperation between the two nations.

Bater, who is an official visit to the Maldives, paid a courtesy call on President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu Thursday morning at the President’s Office.

During the meeting, Bater conveyed warm greetings from Chinese President and congratulated President Muizzu on ruling PNC’s victorious supermajority in the parliamentary elections.

He also spoke regarding the historic relations between Maldives and China, and in this trajectory, reiterated that the Chinese government respects and supports the Maldives’ sovereignty and promotes mutual respect while advancing cooperation between the two nations.

Bater said President Xi’s state visit to the Maldives in 2014 and President Muizzu’s recent state visit to China have significantly contributed to the advancement of cooperation and friendly relations between the two countries.

Speaking at the meeting, President Muizzu emphasized the cordial relationship between the Maldives and China and expressed looking forward to strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries.

Referring to his state visit to China, the President also extended gratitude for the opportunity.

President Muizzu and Beter concluded the meeting by expressing their eagerness to work closely on future collaborations.

Bater arrived in the Maldives on a three-day official visit on Tuesday evening.

He was appointed vice chairperson of CPPCC in 2018, and also serves as a member of Central Committee of ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

CPPCC, comprising of delegates from CCP and its people’s organizations, political parties and independent members, advises and puts proposals for political and social issues to government bodies. It, however, lacks any real legislative power.

Source(s): sun.mv

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Minister Shiyam: MIFCO lacks capacity to purchase yellowfin tuna this year

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Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam, on Wednesday, said the state’s fisheries company, MIFCO, lacks the capacity to purchase yellowfin tuna from yellowfin tuna fishermen this year.

Local fishermen staged a protest at sea on Wednesday over the delays in the disbursement of payment for the fish purchased from them. The protest, organized by the Bodu Kanneli Masveringe Union (BKMU) – a trade Union of yellowfin tuna fishermen – initially began at Hulhumale’ jetty and later moved to Male’ lagoon.

Minister Shiyam visited the protest site and addressed the fishermen during which he said MIFCO currently lacks the capacity to purchase yellowfin tuna from yellowfin tuna fishermen. Nevertheless, he affirmed the administration’s commitment to purchase yellowfin tuna as pledged by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

“We are undertaking efforts to strengthen MIFCO, and we will get it done,” he added.

Speaking further, Minister Shiyam underscored the President’s wishes to fulfill his electoral pledges in the early years of his electoral term.

“Please know that in these seven months, we have been faring through serious financial difficulties. Nevertheless, we are working,” he stressed.

The Minister also noted that the government wishes to proceed with matters following consultations with stakeholders.

He also addressed one of the biggest concerns of fishermen at present; the government’s plans to allow commercial longline fishing.

He assured that commercial longline fishing will not be allowed as it had been practiced previously in the Maldives, adding the plans will be implemented in a manner that the interests of the yellowfin tuna fishermen, who will strongly be impacted by longline fishing, are protected.

At Wednesday’s protest, participants demanded the government drop its plans to allow commercial longline fishing. They also demanded that MIFCO begin purchasing yellowfin tuna as pledged by the government and the disbursement of payment for pending dues to fishermen.

Source(s): sun.mv

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Over MVR 10 million raised for Palestine as nationwide telethon concludes

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The nationwide telethon, conducted under the slogan “Falastheenaa Eku Dhivehin,” which translates to “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine,” by the Public Service Media (PSM), in partnership with local media has concluded.

Over MVR 10 million was raised for Palestinians with donations from various parties, alongside over USD 31,000.

As part of the telethon, donation boxes have been placed in 13 locations across the Maldivian capital, Male’ City.

The telethon was conducted under the direct instruction of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu who launched the event on Wednesday morning. President Muizzu and First Lady Sajidha Ahmed made donations during the launching ceremony.

The ceremony was also attended by senior government officials including cabinet ministers.

Notable donations made during the telethon included MVR 2.1 million from Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), MVR 500,000 from STELCO and MVR 300,000 from STO. Donations were also made by various other government ministries, institutions, companies and private individuals. A local family, ‘Nooran Family’ also donated MVR 50,000.

Israel’s current war on Gaza, which began on October 7, 2023, has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children. It has also reduced much of the Palestinian territory to rubble, displaced the vast majority of residents, and resulted in widespread malnutrition.

Source(s): sun.mv

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