Philippines President Benigno Aquino III. Pic: AP.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino III’s comparison of the Chinese leadership to Adolf Hitler is, to say the least, uncalled for, China’s bullying tactics in Asia aside.

It was a provocative response by the Filipino president to the repeated maneuverings of China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The escalating standoff in that area is ruffling the feathers of leaders of all countries laying claim to the resource-rich region, whether those claims are legitimate are not.  Some are even using the international row to smokescreen shortcomings in their own countries.

Malacañang Palace, the center of the Philippines government, was quick to defend the president from the expected broadside the Chinese media hurled at him.

With 30 months left in office Aquino seems anxious to see out his term, and isn’t shying away from the contreversial – the diplomatic row with China including.

Diplomacy and international relations have never been a strong point of Aquino’s. Hong Kong is still haunting the Filipino president for the botched Manila bus hostage crisis that left nine dead in August 2010.

Even so, comparing the victims of Japan’s Axis-aligned World War II onslaught is an unthoughtful and tactless statement.

But no mistake, China should be brought to account for its provocation and increasing aggression in the region.

China too has a long history of using its might to invade and conquer its neighbors.

After a period of isolation in the 20th century, it has emerged to become one of the world’s biggest economies and an emerging superpower.

In the search for markets and sources of raw materials for its growing industries, it is aggressively dictating the course of international relations in Southeast Asia.  No better way to do it than control territories and shipping lanes.  

The last thing Aquino and, for that matter, the Philippines as a whole to do is to play into the hands of China’s provocation –  unless we have the will to do so.

Calling them Hitler is not the way to do it.