A state-run Chinese newspaper has run an editorial calling the governments of Japan and the United States the “eunuchs” of new Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, following a humiliating loss for Beijing at the Hague over its claims in the South China Sea.
The Global Times ran a piece arguing that the Chinese loss at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague was orchestrated by both Japan and the United States and that their governments’ support of the verdict, which denied all Chinese claims, was a sign that they were “worried.”
The article argues that Manila’s response to the verdict in the Philippines vs. China has been “relatively mild” compared to the two countries. “An old Chinese saying goes ‘the emperor doesn’t worry but his eunuch does,'” the column reads, “meaning the outsider is more anxious than the player. In this case, Washington and Tokyo are the worrying eunuchs.”
Washington and Tokyo have both issued statements supporting the Hague verdict, which denies China’s claims in the sea. Beijing has issued a border known as the “nine-dash line,” which claims parts of the sovereign territory of Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia for itself. The government of Benigno Aquino in Manila brought the claims to court under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China insists does not apply to the artificial islands it has built in the Spratly and Paracel Island chains and the Scarborough Shoal. The court found that those islands are not eligible for their own exclusive economic zones in the water as they cannot maintain a permanent population.
“The arbitral tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration is nothing but a puppet tribunal established at the unilateral request of the former Philippine government, and its so-called ‘award’ by no means represents international law,” Chinese state outlet Xinhua declared Thursday. The publication is alleging that a Japanese judge manipulated the tribunal into ruling against China, even though Japan has no territorial claims in the South China Sea.
In another article, the Global Times claims the verdict is an injustice against “all Chinese people.” “This is ridiculous. The verdict has brazenly violated China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights,” the paper declares. “Not only the Chinese government, but the whole of Chinese society will by no means accept the verdict. Our attitude of non-acceptance and non-participation in the arbitration remains unchanged.”
The Chinese government has decided to loudly target Washington and Tokyo, but leave the current government in Manila out of their bullseye, for now. Aquino is no longer president, replaced by Rodrigo Duterte, a tough-talking former mayor of southern Davao City. The Global Times article referring to the U.S. and Japan as “eunuchs” also implies some admiration for Duterte. “The US and Japan might want to encourage Manila to take a tougher stance against Beijing, yet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not necessarily willing to be their pawn,” it posits. “The new Philippine government has more than once showed its hope of resolving the disputes with China through peaceful negotiations.”
Duterte, who vowed not to give the media any interviews until his presidential term ends in four years, has not made any public statements on the verdict. As candidate, he repeatedly rejected the idea of going to war with China, offering to personally sail to the disputed territory on a jet ski and claim it instead. His spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said Wednesday that the president is urging “caution, sobriety, and restraint” and seeking bilateral talks with Beijing. “Basically it is that; we welcome the ruling. However, we proceed with caution… with restraint and sobriety. Now, whatever the results are, the legislative part has been done, and so we are awaiting the right responses coming from the government,” he said.
The verdict is wildly popular in the Philippines, where eight out of ten citizens answered in a survey that they supported taking China to court. Fishermen, who relied on the disputed territories for their livelihood before being chased away by Chinese coast guard boats, have begun demanding permission to return to the Scarborough Shoal fishing grounds. “We are still studying our courses of action. The President has yet to decide on the matter,” Masinloc Mayor Arsenia Lim, whose residents are close to the disputed grounds, told reporters.