The Emergence of G2
By Erick San Juan
Few years back, when then U.S. Charge d'Affaires Tom Hubbard invited selected members of the American Chambers in his residence in a flushy village in Makati City, we talked about so many issues like the Warden Alert and the Philippines relationship with the U.S., the Asean and China. When I was tasked to comment, some of my colleagues were shocked to hear me talk about the future turbulence between the U.S. and China. When the good diplomat, retired Ambassador Hubbard was here last year, he remembered my analysis which he said I predicted right. Now we are seeing the growing tensions building up between US and China which seems to compound everyday. Every nation in this planet can’t help but watch the unfolding of events as we await for the next "chess" move from both camps which could lead to a disastrous situation, especially if the peacemakers will not intervene. As a nation, we should be wary because we are situated in a very strategic area where these two giants play a dangerous game.
As I observed, the rivalry between the emerging G2 (US and China) started when China established “friendly” relations with countries considered as “enemies” of the US. For whatever name or category that the U.S. had branded several nation states, especially Iran and Venezuela, China is always there to do business with them. China is now becoming a dominant figure both in economic and in political arena as it took advantage of the financial crisis confronting major regions of the world. “Soft touch” (as I call it) approach is what China is using in order to make a deal while US seems to use force and intimidation in countries they consider as “rogue states”. Big powers knew for a fact that most of these nations are rich in oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. This is one approach that US can’t muster while China has already mastered. This is the reason why the Chinese surpassed other developed countries in the process.
Economically, the China – ASEAN Free Trade Area was completed last January 1, 2010. It started in Nov. 4, 2002, when former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations signed at the Sixth China- ASEAN Summit the landmark Framework Agreement on ASEAN-China Comprehensive Economic Cooperation. The China- ASEAN free trade area, which will comprise China , Brunei , Cambodia , Indonesia , Laos , Malaysia , Myanmar , the Philippines , Singapore , Thailand and Vietnam , is expected to be one of the biggest free trade areas in the world. Since 2003, China and ASEAN have held consultations on agreements concerning the building of the free trade area.
The China-ASEAN free trade area will have a total population of 1.8 billion and a combined gross national product of US$2 trillion. The estimated total trade volume of US$1.2 trillion will make it the third largest market in the world, after the European Union and the North American free trade area. (Source: www.china.org.cn)
This is only one part of the globe and China continuously in search for markets to sell its finished products, seeking for sources of energy and raw materials. It pushes China to enter into contracts and grant loans and aids to countries worldwide.
What is behind all these economic and political advancement of China in helping out developing countries? Just like any nation growing economically, comes military might. This is a very sensitive issue which I have pointed out in my previous articles and radio broadcasts quoting experts on the build up of high-tech military capabilities of both US and China as they prepare for future war.
“US has sought to encircle China with a series of alliances and bases, stretching from Japan , South Korea , Singapore , Australia and India to Afghanistan and Central Asia . China is responding by building its own military capabilities, including a blue-water navy to secure shipping routes to the Middle East and Africa, and a de facto partnership with Russia to counter US influence in Central Asia”. (US-China Rivalry Intensifies by John Chan, Global Research) This is one aspect of the contest by the emerging G2 that makes the rest of the world really nervous.
As for the Philippines, “Our relationship with the United States has never been better and that's where it should be. Above the surface we will have the strongest link with China, but under the surface we're the strongest ally of the United States,” said foreign affairs Secretary Roberto Romulo.
This could be a great challenge to our country’s next leadership – to strategically play the G2 card well for the welfare of the Filipinos.