By Ramon Orosa
The Vietnam violence does not come as a surprise. While seemingly symbiotic, having worked together for many years in Vietnam’s fight for independence and being somewhat conjoined by having similar ideologies, and finally adopting their ideology to allow greater economic freedoms, I think there is some tendency to under estimate the fierce independence of the Vietnamese and their determination to protect their national interests from China’s escalating attempt at robbery, no matter how China might defensively view it’s actions.
They have not abandoned a centralized autocratic form of governance and when it is not damaging to her interests, Vietnam is likely to be accommodative of China’s “requests” but there is a clear point when Vietnam will no longer accommodate China. The sea grab of China is one of them. The violence is meant to send a loud and clear message to China that her Middle Ages world view needs to be seriously updated and revised. The world is no longer the same and while China has prospered greatly in the last 50 years, it is not sufficient reason to look at the other countries that are her neighbors as vassals that need to pay tribute to China as an overlord.
In modern times, China has decided to restore that tribute paying practice by the attempt to extend her sovereignty over the seas and extend, because she thinks no one can challenge her, to the virtual shores of the neighboring countries. She looks with so much condescension on her neighbors, viewing herself as a superior race to which all others must bow and acquiesce. Witness her response to statements from the US essentially telling the US to keep out- this is our turf and we are free to do whatsoever we wish including rewriting all the boundaries of neighboring nations. First the seas, and then virtual takeovers of the involved nations.
This is why she insists that bilateral discussions are the only way to resolve this whole issue. First, bilateral discussions will weaken any resistance, because China’s economic size and military might are unmatchable by any of the neighboring countries and so the negotiations would be truly one sided. Second, China’s twin objectives are simply to have everyone accept what is in the seas are theirs and if you accept that, you may do whatever you wish there provided we get the lion’s share of the riches in the water and the sea beds at the bottom. That is your tribute to your overlord and you still get some of the riches but you grow at our discretion.
I suppose some of the thinking in terms of timing was based on their assessment that the US is a spent force that would be unwilling to take on China in a confrontation in the area and that the American public, devastated by the economic problems of the last 5 years and the accumulated debts of their Middle Eastern adventures since 9/11, would not be supportive.
But, at best, the world view of China is barbaric and has absolutely no place in the modern world. In some way, some might even be able to say that because it is race discriminative, China is today’s resurrection of nazi, gestapo type national policy. The problem is that China essentially plans long term and in this case, hopes to wear out all of the other affected nations, including the US. It is what I interpret as China’s beginning war versus the world. All of her alliances are strategic, serving her political, commercial and military interests. She has no real allies, just nations under her dominance. And when, in her estimation, the payoff is inestimable, just as the potential riches of the South Seas are, she will attempt to grab whatever can be grabbed.
This sea grab of China is truly unconscionable and in a way, I suggest that cowardice is behind the statements of the US that they are neutral in terms of the disputatious grab being done by China. What could be more unlawful, unreasonable if not unconscionable than what China is doing? This is what China is relying on. That is why she continues to expand her South Seas presence while America does nothing but talk.
Even if US stations forces in Palawan, it will take several years before any decent facility can be constructed. In those years of construction, China will be expanding her presence so that by the time the US is able to establish herself, China would already have built a mighty presence in the area she is grabbing. The problem then is how to get her out without a major confrontation. It seems to me it would probably be too late. I would think it is time not just for port visits by American naval forces, but a temporary placement in the disputed areas of some of those vessels and aircraft that constantly move and shadow the Chinese vessels.
Some might ask, why China is reclaiming land and building an airfield? Because of the distance from China’s coastline to the disputed area so she can station both naval and air forces and not run out of fuel or supplies should there be combat.
What China may not have anticipated was the protest reactions and attacks on Chinese interests in Vietnam. She also did not expect our forces to arrest the fishermen who were clearly trespassing and poaching endangered species of sea life in the area. So the response has been somewhat muted. What China fails to understand is that times have changed, the world has changed and while she has much military might, she will have to do a whole lot of killing to subdue the neighboring nations and make a pariah of herself in the world. Does she mind? I doubt it and that is what is truly unfortunate about this situation.
Many Filipinos are wondering, why is it that the signing of a very important pact as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which is actually the centerpiece of US President Barack Obama’s visit was not signed by the US and PH presidents? Instead was signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Phillip Goldberg hours before the arrival of Pres. Barack Obama. To think, the signing was not even witnessed by the two presidents.
Some pundits believe that the EDCA was not signed by the two heads of state, because US does not want to hurt China in the process. So it is quite obvious that every time the issue of how far Uncle Sam will help the country in times of trouble with China (and/or other aggressor) the safe answer of the big brother – “We are not doing this because of China. We are doing this because we have a longstanding alliance partner [the Philippines]. They are interested in stepping up our military-to-military,” and “we (US) just want a peaceful and safe navigation in the South China Sea”. All rhetoric, but can we fault them in protecting their interests!
We really never learned from the past agreements that we had with the US, always lopsided, favoring the US more and in the end we are shortchanged (again). So the doublespeak of PNoy’s people of not allowing the Filipinos to be shortchanged in the latest pact are all double talk.
Like what the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and other organizations observed – they have been unimpressed, seeing the EDCA as an open invitation to a molester to offer protection against a touted bully. “The oft repeated rationale,” explained Bayan’s secretary Renato M. Reyes, Jr. is that we need this agreement with the US to protect ourselves from Chinese incursions. So what Aquino is basically saying is, to protect Filipinos from the neighborhood bully, we’re inviting a rapist inside our house to do as he pleases.” (by Binoy Kampmark)
Just like what I have been saying for so long now in my writings and daily radio program – this is rape with consent. Again, no thanks to our leaders.
Furthermore, in this EDCA, the so-called camp sharing operation will make the whole country as Uncle Sam’s military base. So the ‘chubibo’ of not going to build new US military bases here is true because through camp sharing scheme, US will not pay any rent and all the AFP’s camps from north to south of the archipelago will be the US ‘military base’, free of charge, translation – ‘rape with consent’. Need we say more?
And remember, back in August 2009, in her affidavit, Navy officer Nancy Gadian accused the US military of building permanent structures in different military camps in the country. She said US forces have established “permanent” and “continuous” presence in Zamboanga, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the south.
She added that the Philippine military has no access to the camps built by the US soldiers in these areas since they are “fenced off by barbed wires and guarded by US Marines.”
Gadian likewise said these structures are indications the US troops had no intention of leaving the country, which is a violation of the Philippine Constitution.
For over a decade now, we are actually being ‘screwed’ with the willingness of past and present administrations in the guise of being part of the coalition of the willing to fight the global war on terror of then President George ‘Dubya” Bush Jr.
And like what former senator Joker Arroyo said “What did the Philippines get out of the Obama visit? Zero.”
Especially on the part of our Filipino war veterans that was tackled by a former ambassador Jose Zaide, a pro- American historian turned patriot in his article (April 28 at the Manila Bulletin) “the more than 250,000 Filipinos who fought for USA in WW2 and shared the same foxholes with US troops were promised equal treatment. But the US Congress 1946 Rescission Act denied Filipino war vets, making a dishonest man of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Filipino WW2 vets were only collateral damage (add-on) to the Recission Act, which was passed principally for the purpose of controlling excessive claims of US war supplies providers.
In 2009, US Congress threw small bones granting one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipino vets in the USA and $9,000 to those in PH. More crumbs promised to Filipino vets helped swing trusting Pinoys in USA to vote for re-election of Barack Obama.
Our problem is that the GPH representing the Filipino WW2 vets has one eye cocked at its own shopping list (for hand-me-down armaments and surplus and other USAID).
US Congress, which passed the Recission law, would not reverse itself. (No constituency in support of granting monies to historical allies.)
On hindsight, Filipino WW2 vets should do their own pleading, i.e., sue the US government at the US Supreme Court, which will be no less noble than the French Court de Cessation and the British High Court.”
As a whole, all the excitement and fanfare that the Obama visit has created in the country are all ‘chubibo’ and sadly, the current administration welcomed the EDCA with open legs. Carol P. Araullo of Businessworld said the EDCA is a negotiated surrender of our sovereignty.
“Na-EDCA-han na naman tayo”