Beijing's moves in S. China Sea 'remind' Aquino of Nazis' actions
PHILIPPINE President Benigno Aquino likened present-day China to Nazi Germany during a speech in Japan yesterday, hinting that the world cannot continue to appease Beijing as it claims more territory in the South China Sea.
The comments come as disquiet grows over the quickening pace of China's land reclamation programme in international waters, including its construction of a runway long enough for large military planes.
"If there was a vacuum - if the United States, which is the superpower, says 'we are not interested' - perhaps, there is no brake to ambitions of other countries," Mr Aquino told business leaders in Tokyo.
"I'm an amateur student of history and I'm reminded of... how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers," he said, referring to the Nazis' territorial conquests in the months before the start of World War II.
"They tested the waters and they were ready to back down if, for instance, in that aspect, France said (to back down).
"But unfortunately, up to the annexation of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, the annexation of the entire country of Czechoslovakia, nobody said stop.
"If somebody said stop to (Adolf) Hitler at that point in time, or to Germany at that time, would we have avoided World War II?"
The comments sparked anger in Beijing, where Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said she was "deeply shocked and dissatisfied with the groundless remarks".
Ms Hua reiterated the Chinese position that the Philippines has "illegally" occupied Chinese islands, adding that "the Philippines keeps colluding with countries outside the region to stir up trouble and sling mud at China".
Mr Aquino, who is in Japan on a four-day visit, has previously made similar comments, comparing China's actions with those of the Third Reich.
"At what point do you say, 'Enough is enough?' Well, the world has to say it - remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II," he told the New York Times last year, provoking fury in Beijing.
His comments yesterday came after US President Barack Obama this week weighed in on the growing tensions in the South China Sea, urging regional powers - particularly China - to respect the law and stop "throwing elbows".
China has rejected US demands to stop all reclamation works in the South China Sea, saying it was exercising its sovereignty and using the outposts to fulfil international responsibilities.
Beijing insists it has sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, a major global shipping route believed to be home to oil and gas reserves, but rival claimants accuse it of expansionism.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have various claims over islets and reefs in the area.