South East Asia
By Erick San Juan
Recalling the words of the late Senator Claro M.Recto that “in the future, Philippines could be a province of China.” In the ’90′s, We were told by an American lecturer at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC that the future war in South China Sea could spark between China and Vietnam and the Philippine involvement is inevitable. When my father was still alive, he told me the time will come that possibly the Philippines and many Asian countries will be ruled by China. Thus dividing the world into regions namely: Asia is for China, US controlling north, central and south America, USSR (now Russia) dominating Eastern Europe, Germany managing western Europe and Israel conquering Africa and the Middle East to create a Greater Israel in the process.
This flashback of events is now getting into a reality. In the Asian setting, it started with sweet talks from China’s leaders diplomatic steps in 2013 to reportedly improve Asean-China relations and bring back confidence in the region, charming it’s neighbors with promises of restraint and win-win cooperation. Foreign minister Wang Yi in May 2013, had raised hope in Asean that China was giving first priority to regional diplomacy and China viewed Asean as a valuable strategic partner.
Asean welcomed the visits of China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to South East Asia in October 2013. Pres. Xi’s historic remarks to the Indonesian parliament that Asean and China should build “trust and develop good neighborliness” and “stick through thick and thin”.
China also indicated that it’s ‘Maritime Silk Road for the 21st Century Initiative’ was inspired by Admiral Zheng He’s peaceful voyages to South East Asia in the 15th century, which was not about gaining new territories but about commerce and extending Chinese civilization. As a result of these diplomatic statements by Chinese leaders, Asean was hopeful that China was changing it’s approach to it’s maritime disputes with its neighbors. Asean leaders were closer to becoming convinced that the ‘China Dream’ could also be made ‘South East Asia’s Dream’.
Asean agreed to fully and effectively implement the Asean-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS-DOC and actively proposed confidence building measures.
The overall situation in the South China Sea went calmer with both sides exercising restraint.
(Casting Doubt on Neighborliness by Nguyen Hung Son of RSIS-Singapore 5/14/14)
What went wrong? Action speaks more than words.
China issued the 9 Dash line, the new Hainan fishing regulations and introduced an ADIZ(Air Defense Identification Zone) in the SCS.
It was a complete shock to the Asean and the international community when China sent it’s biggest oil rig near Vietnam, claiming the maritime area as it’s own. China even grabbed few reefs and shoals also claimed by the Philippines and installed military barracks. Nguyen concluded that China’s action was deliberate, well-planned and coordinated.
The worst, China even dismissed calls to resolve the dispute through dialogue and other peaceful means. Is this the current version of Sun Tzu’s Art of War?
The real agenda was exposed by Andrew Browne of the Wall Street Journal (5/21/14) citing CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corp.) launching it’s first deep water drilling rig in 2012. It’s chairman, Wang Yilin called it “our mobile national territory and a strategic weapon”. He claimed that an oil platform enjoyed sovereign rights wherever it floated, like an offshore island. The gigantic $1 billion rig was designed to roam across the SCS, which China claims almost in its entirety.
It got the ire of the Vietnamese people, who resisted and rammed the Chinese ships. The fury of the Vietnamese continued and attacked the Chinese owned factories on shore. China evacuated thousands of its nationals, many injured and several died.
According to Jane Perlez and Keith Bradsher of Intl. New York Times (5/19/14), ” The deployment of the oil rig is a possible game changer. Its China’s determination to dominate the South China Sea. While Holly Morrow, a fellow in the geopolitics of energy program at Harvard University who served during the George W. Bush administrations National Security Council said, “China has been taking incremental steps, escalating and increasing its presence in SCS. CNOOC is a business but the program is not only about energy, its about sovereignty.”
Since two years ago, China was reportedly able to nudge aside the helpless Philippines from the disputed reefs without a fight. While many nations admired the Vietnamese standing up against perceived Chinese invasion. The world has not forgotten that the Vietnamese fought the Americans in the past and won.
Ken Fuller of the Daily Tribune asked a very timely question–”Will Washington Defend the Philippines? (5/20/14) He said that the US government clarified almost 40 years ago that it was under NO OBLIGATION that the US will honor the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, nor will spring to the Philippines defense in the event of a Chinese incursion into areas of SCS claimed by this country.
On June 9,1975, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger even sent a lengthy telegram to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, with a copy to the US Embassy-Manila stating Washington’s legal interpretation that MDT commitments do not apply in the event of an attack on Spratlys or on GOP(Government of the Philippines) forces stationed there.
The Spratlys were not included in the territory ceded by Spain to the USA in 1898 and excluded from the maps accompanying the presentation of MDT.( You have to read Fuller’s article in full and you will surely get ‘goose pimples’.
The worst revelation came from John Mangun, an American based in the Philippines and columnist at the Businessmirror(5/22/14). He believed that Beijing’s diabolical plan is not only to take over the Philippines power grid but….. It’s a fact: China is not going away and relations and actions must be based on REALITY, NOT FANTASY.
He said that the US government is so out of touch with what’s happening on the ground that US Sec. of State John F.Kerry might go to Beijing to offer to sell the Philippines to China using the same 1898 Treaty of Paris as the legal basis.
“Ano tayo, pambayad utang?” God forbid!