For the past two months, the Philippines and China have been locked in a standoff over territory in the South China Sea that both countries claim.The Philippine navy accused Chinese boats of fishing illegally in the area. Protesters in the Philippines are shown here marching in Manila earlier this month.

In what seems to be an attempt to increase its influence in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, China has claimed numerous rocks, shoals, and fishing grounds recognized around the world as territory of the Philippines.  The president of the Philippines, President Benigno S. Aquino III, compared China’s demands to those of Hitler when he demanded portions of Czechoslovakia be handed over to Germany in 1938. He qualified these remarks by stating that “If we say yes to something we believe is wrong now, what guarantee is there that the wrong will not be further exacerbated down the line?” referencing Germany’s eventual conquest of the rest of Europe in the early 1940s despite the Czech surrender of the Sudetenland.

The Philippines are but one of the many plaintiffs speaking out against China’s brazen actions in the region. Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei all have had territorial disputes over maritime boundaries with China in recent years, and more often than not, China get its way. Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe spoke out against China by referencing how Britain and Germany were willing to go to war in 1914 despite their strong economic ties suggesting that aggression against China is not out of the question for Japan.

One of China’s tactics to success is its unwillingness to hold multilateral negotiations, which allows China to exert pressure without the supervision of any other parties. President Aquino said of China “You may have the might, but that does not necessarily make you right. “     

Photo Credit: Pat Roque – Associated Press