Dec 4, 2012

Philippines - The US reality in the South China Sea

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A right thinking Filipino journalist would have recognized the dynamics of the multi-nation conflicting interests in the South China Sea and should therefore support our country. But because we delude ourselves as free media, some of our colleagues have thrown patriotic values out of the window and have promoted, whether wittingly or unwittingly, positions that negatively affect our country’s position.

From what was once a “see-no-evil, hear-no-evil” club, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) has shown signs of transforming itself as an avenue for seeking a rationalization of conflicting interests among its members. During the recent ASEAN Summit held in Cambodia, China’s role in the South China Sea was questioned by Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines. Not only that, the three ASEAN member countries contested the pro-China proposal not to internationalize the South China Sea conflict. The Philippines and Vietnam are claimants in the South China Sea dispute while Singapore sees regional stability with a big US presence.

Filipinos should be proud of how President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) intensely campaigned — while being pestered by a vicious flu virus that required a 2-day bed rest — for our national interest during the ASEAN Summit. P-Noy was the most vocal and aggressive in challenging China’s position in the South China Sea. Our country is actually facing a crisis of major proportions in this South China Sea dispute that also involves the interests and claims of other ASEAN countries and US strategic interests as well.

The US strategic interest in the region is to keep the vital shipping lanes of the South China Sea free from imposed disruption. Shipping disruption in the South China Sea would have a telling effect on the projection of US power in the Pacific and the viability of commercial activities of US goods as well as those of its allies. The oil and gas in the South China is an added interest for the US to play a role.

P-Noy initially wanted to take the neutral role in the US and China conflict. We’re of no real threat militarily to either the US or China. We should at least aspire to maintain good relations and freely trade with both of them. China had compelled P-Noy to align with the US by its aggressive stance of installing a military presence in our Panatag Shoal and including parts of our territory in their claimed domain.

There are Filipinos who opine that the Philippines shouldn’t have embraced the US and instead dealt with China diplomatically. These are ignorant deductions of folks who don’t know history and are deluded about how benevolent China could be if we didn’t invite the US factor in the South China Sea conflict. It was only in the Bible — a dubious source, especially the Old Testament — where a man named Daniel was thrown into the den of hungry lions and lived to talk about it. In the real world, anyone thrown into the den of hungry lions would be eaten and devoured with gusto. Sans US support, China would have eaten us like a hungry lion.

It’s only the US that has a military presence that could deter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. It’s only the US that could make China think twice and opt to execute a retrograde maneuver from its aggressive foreign policy. If ever an acceptable code of conduct is crafted among claimants in the South China Sea — it’s only US presence that can ensure that China will keep its end of the bargain.

China’s aggression is primarily prodded by its need to ensure oil and gas supplies to fuel its economy. China has good reasons to fear a US domination of the remaining oil and gas sources in the world. China doesn’t have the presence that the US enjoys in the oil-rich Middle East. A US naval fleet could easily be dispatched to the Middle East and the US has a powerful proxy in the region — Israel. The US has its own supply of oil and gas and may not even need to partake in the oil and gas explorations and operations in the South China Sea. To China, the oil and gas in the South China Sea could mean continued progress or economic slowdown.

Filipinos should learn from Vietnam. Up to the early 1970s, Vietnam and the US were engaged in a brutal war, which Vietnam won. Despite that conflict, Vietnam has opted to dance with the US in this issue of multi-nation conflicts in the South China Sea. We don’t even have the military capability of Vietnam, a country that defeated the US, and yet we have here self-proclaimed nationalists finding fault when our president makes the wise move of engaging US support in dealing with Chinese aggression.

They’re either stupid or Quislings. Stupid because they can’t seem to fathom where our national interest is best served. Quislings because what they’re proposing are also what our Reds are mouthing.

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