Monday, August 30, 2010

When Foundations for a Regional Conflict Were Laid…

When Foundations for a Regional Conflict Were Laid…
By Erick San Juan

China said on Thursday it had used a small, manned submarine to plant the national flag deep beneath the South China Sea, where Beijing has tussled with Washington and Southeast Asian nations over territorial disputes.

The submarine achieved the feat during 17 dives from May to July, when it went as deep as 3,759 meters (12,330 feet) below the South China Sea, the official China News Service said, citing the Ministry of Science and Technology and State Oceanic Administration.

Chinese news reports did not say where the submarine went, whether it visited disputed waters, or why the announcement was held off until now. It was the first time a Chinese submersible vehicle has gone that deep, said the reports. (Source: Phil. Daily Inquirer Online 8/27/2010)

And . . .

[Adm. Robert Willard, U.S. Navy]:
"The overall security, the maritime security and security of the air space in these international waters - vitally important. So the role of the United States Navy will be to maintain a continued presence in the region and to continue to work together very closely with our partners in the region to ensure that the sea lines and air lines of communication remain safe."

Admiral Willard says the U.S. Navy continues to monitor movements and provide military assistance in the South China Sea, a vital artery for trade with some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The sea holds valuable fishing grounds and largely untapped oil and natural gas fields.

Given these scenarios and as one of the legitimate claimants on some of the islands in the South China Sea, we are in a helpless situation wherein most of our military officers has been trained and schooled in the U.S. (translation – the Philippines have to tow the line of the US foreign policy). And recently, the US will provide us with the necessary firepower to protect our maritime territories. Enough reasons that were clearly laid out by the US’ intention to establish a permanent presence thru our waters which is the shortest route between the Pacific and Indian oceans where half of the world’s oil tankers passes through.

After reading several articles on the internet by leading authorities on the growing disputes between US and China, both countries are actually testing each others capabilities in naval powers while the rest of the region just have to wait and see for who will make the first move that will trigger the next regional war.

But, US intervention, in which it aims to take a dominating role in the South China Sea disputes, will further complicate this issue, said Su Hao, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Region at China Foreign Affairs University.

"It is supporting territorial claims of China's neighbors in order to contain China, but its intervention will have limited impact as long as China sticks to its position," Su said.

"China must be persistent in regional cooperation, bilateral and multilateral cooperation," urged Su, "but not have a sensational reaction and fall into the US' trap."

Gradually, Beijing is being drawn to Washington’s trap as the US Department of Defense's latest assessment of China's military, "2010 Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China", was released. The US has provided the world with sobering news about China's military buildup and modernization.

"Other than limited credit given to the Chinese military's overseas peacekeeping efforts and humanitarian assistance, the annual report is making vague accusations over China's military power, growth and intentions," declared the Global Times. "The report calls for sustained and reliable US-China military-to-military relations. Yet, given the recent US military activities surrounding China's Yellow Sea and the South China Sea, including the symbolic presence of the aircraft carrier George Washington, has US military shown willingness to build mutual trust? The report illustrates the Pentagon's hostility against the Chinese defense sector. It also sent a confusing message to the world about China's military role."

The official Chinese reaction is no less irate. China described the assessment as exaggerating and distorting China's military strength.

"We firmly oppose this report," said Jiang Yu, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry.

The US report also "ignored objective facts" and is "not beneficial to the improvement and development of Sino-US military ties", said Geng Yansheng, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman.

Methinks that the release of the said annual report only heightens the tension between US and China and contributes to the growing mistrust between them. Sadly, the South China Sea will be the arena for the next regional conflict as foundations were laid by the two powerful nations.

When and how are we going to make a stand as a sovereign nation despite the fact that our leaders seem to kowtow to Uncle Sam’s wishes. We must take the lead to resort to peaceful dialogue and not through military might that will only add to the adversaries’ hostilities. We can’t afford to be at war, much more to a war that will never benefit us. May God bless and unite our people. May He touch our leaders, wake them up to reality, have the wisdom to do what is right and what will benefit the nation..

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