TOKYO - Philippine President Benigno Aquino likened present-day China to Nazi Germany during a speech in Japan yesterday, hinting that the world cannot continue to appease Beijing as it claims more territory in the South China Sea.
The comments come as disquiet grows over the quickening pace of China's land reclamation programme in international waters, including its construction of a runway long enough for large military planes.
"If there was a vacuum - if the United States, which is the superpower, says 'we are not interested' - perhaps, there is no brake to ambitions of other countries," Mr Aquino told business leaders in Tokyo.
"I'm an amateur student of history and I'm reminded of... how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers," he said, referring to the Nazis' territorial conquests in the months before the start of World War II.
"They tested the waters and they were ready to back down if, for instance, in that aspect, France said (to back down).
"But unfortunately, up to the annexation of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, the annexation of the entire country of Czechoslovakia, nobody said stop.
"If somebody said stop to (Adolf) Hitler at that point in time, or to Germany at that time, would we have avoided World War II?"