MANILA - The Philippines should remind China to be "mindful of maritime law," a former envoy said Tuesday after Beijing's Coast Guard supposedly harassed a Filipino-crewed commercial vessel near Scarborough Shoal in late September.
"China should be reminded that we are not only a claimant but we have won the arbitral tribunal case," said retired ambassador Wilfrido Villacorta, former Philippine Permanent Representative to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"We are supposed to be partners. China is a dialogue partner of ASEAN and a close economic and political partner of the Philippines especially under this administration. I’m sure China will understand our vigilance in protecting our sovereign rights."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza earlier told Beijing to follow international maritime laws "if it wants to earn the respect of the international community."
Villacorta cited the Recto Bank incident in June, where a Chinese ship slammed into an anchored Philippine vessel and left its 22 crew members at sea.
"Friendly countries should be more careful in the timing and nature of its actions especially in controversial territory such as the West Philippine Sea," he said.
"Even if they are accidents or oversights, these should be avoided if we are to continue dealing with each other with good will and good faith."
Villacorta, meantime, said China's relationship with ASEAN is essential to its success in becoming the leading superpower.
"China needs us as much as we need China, that we should not forget. China’s relationship with ASEAN is very essential to China’s success in entering the circle of world leaders," he said.
"It is an irreversible fact that China will soon be another world leader, and is aspiring to be the leading world leader. It is time we assess what is China’s idea of a world order."
In order to understand China, countries should look at Beijing's "resentment and desire to recover" from the colonialism of Western powers and Japan from 1839 to 1849.
"This is one frame of mind that we should not ignore. We are still suffering from the hangover of colonialism including China," he said.
"China hasn’t gotten over it and it is the framework we should understand China’s behavior."