Pour une Pax Asia-Pacifica

MANILLE – Les îles Spratly en mer de Chine méridionale constituent l'une des principales sources de tension en Asie, car les Philippines, le Vietnam la Chine et encore d'autres pays se les disputent. Selon les médias chinois, le regain de tension dans la région est dû à des "rumeurs et des spéculations" lancées par des commentateurs philippins. Mais la réalité est tout autre : en février une frégate chinoise a tiré contre des bateaux de pêche philippins prés de l'atoll de Quirino à proximité de Palawan, c'est l'incident le plus grave ; en mars des bateaux de patrouille chinois ont croisé dans le Banc de Reed, un haut-fond situé à 135 kilomètres de l'île philippine de Palawan, et en mai un avion chinois a violé l'espace aérien des Philippines.

Ces incidents récurrents entre les Philippines et le Vietnam d'un coté, la Chine de l'autre vont-ils aboutir à un conflit armé ? De toute évidence ce n'est dans l'intérêt d'aucun des protagonistes. Pourtant le risque augmente, les relations de la Chine avec les Philippines et le Vietnam étant à leur plus bas niveau depuis des décennies. Du fait de ces tensions, il est probable que le conflit de souveraineté en mer de Chine méridionale sera au centre des discussions du Forum régional de l'ASEAN ce mois-ci, ainsi que du sommet d'Asie de l'Est à Bali peu après.

En juin dernier, à l'occasion du 36° anniversaire de l'établissement des relations diplomatiques entre les Philippines et la Chine et du 10° anniversaire de la Journée de l'amitié sino-philippine, j'ai prononcé un discours en présence de 5000 compatriotes et d'une poignée d'officiels chinois. Pourtant ce même jour les journaux chinois critiquaient en une les Philippines pour leur revendication historique sur les îles Spratly.

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