BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Despite China's repeated assertions on upholding peace in the South China Sea, rhetoric about China creating military threat in the region has been ratcheted up.
The most recent example is Philippine President Benigno Aquino's accusation that China's efforts to claim most of the South China Sea should "engender fear for the rest of the world."
Aside from the fact that the claim is groundless, using maritime disputes to peddle fear of China is irresponsible and of no value in settling the disputes. It is fearmongering for the sake of fear.
China's work on some of the Nansha Islands landmasses in the South China Sea falls entirely within its sovereignty.
The root cause of the territorial disputes between the two countries is Philippines' occupation since the 1970s of some of the Nansha Islands. It took them with force.
China's work on the islands mostly serves civil purposes apart from meeting the needs of military defense. China is aiming to provide shelter, aid in navigation, weather forecasts and fishery assistance to ships of various countries passing through the sea.
Moreover, as China embarks on building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), the trade and infrastructure network that will connect China with Southeast Asian nations, Africa and Europe, it is more than willing to turn the South China Sea into a platform for cooperation.
Running contrary to this vision. the idea of China sealing off shipping lanes or thwarting fishing activities is but ill-intentioned speculation.
Aquino's vague expression that "there was no guarantee that shipping lanes vital to global trade would remain open" suggested he was making assumptions.
Worse, he used the assumptions to support another ungrounded assertion that China's activities should spark fear all around the world.
Touting "China fear" based on assumptions is an audacious move. However, the Philippines is emboldened as it is merely echoing messages coming from the United States.
Just days ago, Barack Obama accused China of using its "sheer size and muscle" to bully smaller claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea disputes.
The Philippines has over the years appealed to the sympathy of the international community and military protection from the United States, and created the mirage that China is a bully.
The trick is easy to sell as it caters to the U.S. penchant of hyping fear of China's intentions, particularly in evidence as it worries needlessly over the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Fear will only escalate tension and rivalry. China holds the position that the disputes should be settled through direct negotiation and candid dialogue.
China is moving in this direction, with a meeting earlier this month between Premier Li Keqiang and the chief of the Vietnamese Communist Party establishing consensus on handling the disputes.