Well, it is a standoff; and there is no knockdown yet. But the Philippines has been hit and hurt several times, and there is no sight that it will easily give up.
There is a prayer from the Philippines to send the dispute to a third-party arbitration such as the International Court of Justice, but China, being true to being communist, did not heed the prayer. Hence, the boxing match continues.
Consequently, the heavyweight has been toying with the lightweight. China seizes the moment to assert its global power to what it considers its own backyard and turf, Asia and its seas. A barrage of actions from China was unleashed, with bad intentions, to intimidate and make the Philippines push its own claims based on international laws
Actually, it is about bananas.
China rejected and restricted the shipment of the Philippine second-biggest cash crop export, banana, reportedly due to infestation. For months, the banana growers and exporters have seen their bananas rot in containers stranded in ports. And then, the restrictions were reported to have been expanded to include pineapples and papayas. As a result, the Philippines lost so much money.
And tourism too.
Chinese travel agencies allegedly following instructions from their government suspended tour packages to the Philippines. China is the fourth biggest source of tourists for the Philippines.
And now, the Philippines unleashes its own. It will ship its banana produce to US Marshall Island, Hawaii, Marianas, Guam, and Saipan. The Philippine bananas have passed the Japanese strictest standards, so they are very much welcome to other countries. In tourism, the Philippine government launched its latest campaign, It's more fun in the Philippines, to attract foreign tourists to the Philippines. The latest data show that the foreign tourist arrivals from other countries such as Australia, Germany, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, and the US have increased to fill in the loss of Chinese tourists.
In the end, it is China's loss to deprive its citizens of the mineral- and vitamin-rich bananas and the natural beauty and wonder of tropical beaches and sceneries, only to be found in the Philippines.
And of course, it's also about finance.
The Philippines has decided not to proceed with the loan from China to finance its planned infrastructure projects. It is now looking at a South Korean bank to source the funding. This is on top of the decision by the Philippine government to use its own money to improve and rehabilitate its infrastructures. The Philippines has US$79 Billion (and growing) as foreign exchange reserves.
For the meantime, the West Philippine Sea is being watched by China from the other side. And the South China Sea continues to send waters back and forth to the Philippines. The problem is not on the seas. It is not by the peoples. It is not with the military vessels. It is not against laws.
It is about bananas, tourists, finance, and more. China will tell us more.