Ex-NSA Carlos on China’s aggressions: Let’s stop being meek, go on the offensive

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 15) — Former National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos on Wednesday urged the Philippine government to be more assertive in addressing its maritime issues with China.

“Let us stop being meek. 'Wag tayong magpapapkumbaba (Let us not be humble). This is the time for wolf warrior diplomacy… let us go on the offensive because paulit-ulit n’yo nang ginagawa to eh. Sobra na ang abuso ninyo (this is becoming repetitive. The abuse is already too much),” Carlos told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

She made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a diplomatic protest over an incident on Feb. 6 where the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) aimed a military-grade laser that temporarily blinded the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel en route to bring supplies to Filipino troops stationed in Ayungin Shoal.

"The Philippines has the prerogative to conduct legitimate activities within its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. China does not have law enforcement rights or powers in and around Ayungin Shoal or any part of the Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone)," DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said.

However, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the Philippines did not ask permission, accusing it of intruding into Chinese waters. The CCG only “upheld China’s sovereignty and maritime order,” calling the act “professional and restrained,” he noted.

READ: China says Ayungin Shoal ‘calm’ despite laser incident, hits US for invoking defense treaty

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to express “serious concern” over the recent actions of China against the PCG and local fishermen, according to Malacañang.

The Chinese Embassy said they exchanged views on how to implement the consensus reached by Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping, strengthen dialogue and communication, and properly manage maritime differences between the two countries.

Carlos said escalating the use of laser -- considered an optical distracter -- is "short of war" as it can temporarily impair and harm the eyes of PCG personnel.

The incident near Ayungin Shoal should be considered as a major concern since Beijing's actions were not in line with its call for shared prosperity and shared future, she pointed out.

The Philippines has also repeatedly filed diplomatic protests in the hopes of China changing its behavior, but these were ignored, she said.

During her seven-month stint as national security adviser, Carlos said she recommended to Marcos several options to address China’s increasing aggressions, like lowering the level of diplomatic relations with Beijing and holding joint maritime patrols with allied nations.

“Let the president be a little bit more assertive about what we should do… and right now, for as long as the Mutual Defense Treaty is in place and it’s operational then let’s make it work. The US is our ally,” she also said.