Thursday, May 29, 2014

Like A Thief in the Night by Erick San Juan

 Like A Thief in the Night by Erick San Juan

When China parked a giant oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam, it confirmed what Washington and regional governments have long feared: Beijing is taking a major leap in the defense of its territorial claims, testing the resolve of rattled neighbors—as well as the U.S. (Asia News online 5/8/14)

'Like a thief in the night', such major leap will not sit well with the rest of the neighborhood especially claimants in the disputed areas in the South and East China Sea. As an observer of events and geopolitics, I have been saying through my radio program and my blog that given the premise (as most writers say) that war is inevitable, the epicenter is here, either with Vietnam or the Philippines (or both). For the nth time since I wrote this possibility of war between Vietnam and China way back in the 90’s, that crisis like this was designed to happen and as always – it could be delayed but sadly it will happen whether we like it or not.

When Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited the Philippines during the World Economic Forum on East Asia, economic and security issues were discussed and focused on the disputes with China over contested areas.

Reports from the WEF-EA: While stressing that Vietnam "strives for peace and stability in Asia Pacific," Dung slammed China for violating international law and failing to adhere to his country's demands to "immediately withdraw" a drilling rig it deployed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Speaking before the WEF at the Makati Shangri-la on Thursday, May 22, Dung said China's actions "threaten peace, stability, and security and freedom of navigation and aviation" in the East Sea (South China Sea) and violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"Vietnam always wants peace and friendship," Dung said in Vietnamese. "We have exercised utmost restraint and showed every... good goal and exhausted all dialogue channels to communicate with Chinese authorities of different levels by expressing protest and demanding China to immediately withdraw its drilling rig and its escorting vessels from the Vietnamese waters."

He added: "We ask China to observe the 1982 UNCLOS. However, China (has failed) to respond to Vietnam’s legitimate demand. On the contrary, it has been slandering and blaming Vietnam while continuing to use force and escalating its increasingly adventurous and serious act of intimidation and violation."

"The entire Vietnamese nation has been protesting against China," Dung said. He added that his government has had to manage unrest over the dispute and punish law violators.

It was reported that more than 3,000 Chinese have already returned home from Vietnam following riots by Viet citizens protesting China's deployment of an oil rig to the Paracels.

In an earlier e-mail sent exclusively to Reuters, Dung said, “Vietnam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with international law.”

The Philippines has said it wants Vietnam, along with Malaysia, to join its historic case against China over the disputed waters, parts of which it calls the West Philippine Sea. But Malaysia immediately countered that it won't get involved.

Of course, peaceful resolutions to such crisis had to be done first but as I have warned before - confrontations like this will take place in a regular basis in the contested areas in the SCS among the claimants and China if there will be no clear discussions on the matter, and a possible regional conflict is in the offing.

The fact that China deployed the rig shortly after US Pres. Barack Obama's Asia tour "underlines Beijing's commitment to test the resolve of Vietnam, its Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] neighbors and Washington," wrote security scholars Ernest Bower and Gregory Poling, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China has laid claim to much of the South China Sea for years. Its intent to establish control hasn't changed, security analysts say. But under President Xi Jinping, China's government has begun to more aggressively demonstrate its capabilities, courting more direct conflict with neighbors—trends that have prompted deep worry in Washington. A senior State Department official on a visit to Hanoi on Thursday said the U.S. is "very concerned about any dangers." (Vietnam Spat Represents a Chinese Leap by Brian Spegele and Vu Trong Khanh, 5/8/14)

Given the escalated tensions in the South China Sea through provocations, only a miscalculation could bring the response that has been predicted long time that will spark the conflict.

After a century since the Great War (First World War), is the world ripe for another global war?

Here we go again!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Remembering History: Connecting the Dots by Erick San Juan

By Erick San Juan
South-China-Sea.2Recalling 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!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Payback Time by Erick San Juan

Payback Time by Erick San Juan

Calling the attention of our ''kababayan'' Chinoys and ethnic Chinese! Most of you have enriched yourselves ''at tumiba sa Pinas''. Please don't wait for hardcore Pinoys to act like the Vietnamese especially now that China's PLA retired Gen. Luo Yuan already made a threat. We want to hear your voices in condemning the bullying of China. Don't get me wrong. I'm just worried in what information I'm getting from restive Filipinos. "Huwag niyo ko sisihin na 'di ko kayo inabisuhan. 'Di ako kasali sa anumang balakin." If you're not in support of the Filipinos, then you're not one of us and should go back to where you belong. Even in UK now, they are forfeiting the British citizenship of migrants especially if one's attitude and activities are anti-British. Lastly, i would like to remind you of what's happening in Vietnam and what happened in Indonesia and Malaysia in the past.

God forbid!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

China's Monroe Doctrine: As Told! by Erick San Juan

  China's Monroe Doctrine: As Told! by Erick San Juan

"War happens when there is incessant talk about war.",says my friend Chit Pedrosa of Philippine Star, May 10,'14.                                                

"History is not rich in peaceful transitions of power from one hegemon to another. The seeds of conflict are evident."(Roger Cohen, International New York Times, May 9,'14) Political pundit like Jerry Quibilan mailed me that veteran editor and writer, Manny Almario hit the nail on the head when he said that during the visit of US President Barack Obama, he was consistent with his foreign policy and he further confirmed what most right thinking Filipinos already know. The US will not go to war against China to protect us. During an interview in Malacanang by several reporters, they tried getting an affirmative answer from President Obama on how the US will respond to a flare-up of a war between Philippines and China over the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Seas(WPS).

President Obama responded that, "My job as commander-in-chief is to deploy military force as a last resort, and to deploy it wisely. And frankly, most of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people have no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests."      

But action speaks more than words. Those joint military exercises especially at the West Philippine Sea, the deployment of US military, the visits of nuclear ships and submarines are perceived by China as part of it's encirclement and preparation for an inevitable war.

The sad part of it is that PNoy is being branded by China as a troublemaker and our nation cannot defend ourselves (as hinted by PNoy in his speech during Obama's visit), just in case a war broke out. Even America cannot immediately support us despite their firepowers are already here because our treaty with the US needs the approval of the US congress.                                      

In my past article at Sun Star Manila dated March 8,2000, I wrote that Pentagon planners believed that China will avoid a head-on confrontation with the US until around 2030, when China expects American power to decline significantly. I said, I disagree because at the rate that globalization and free trade are wrecking havoc on the world economy, my think tank group predicted during that time that 'showtime' will begin not later than 2002, due to China's former President Hu Jintao's 'China Dream' to retake Taiwan before his term ends. And the American power bloc will not allow it. To them, Taiwan is an important component of their first-line of missile defense system, which include South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. What's worrisome is the strategic policy of China's present President Xi Jin Ping pursuing a modified 'China Dream' of President Hu.

Veteran journalist Roger Cohen, in his article at International New York Times(5/9/14) entitled 'China's Monroe Doctrine', he quoted John Mearsheimer's book-"The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" who makes a powerful case for the inevitability of war in Asia as China rises.

Mearsheimer's argument is that, if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the US dominated the western hemisphere. The US will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony.

I got curious when the article said that most of Beijing's neighbors: India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and even Russia will join with the US in containing Chinese power. He added that the result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war.

Many believe that the world will go to war again as rumors and preparation for it is on. Especially now that big powers like the US, China and Europe have their own domestic-political and economic problems and it is perceived that the only way to avoid a civil war in China, a second revolution in the US and a divided Europe is to fight another enemy or create one.

Cohen added that China is asserting sovereignty in the South China Sea angering the Philippines and Vietnam. Quoting Mearsheimer that a more powerful China can be expected to try to push the US out of the Asia-Pacific region, much as the US pushed the European great powers out of the western hemisphere in the 19th century. We should expect China to devise it's own version of the 'Monroe Doctrine'.

I agree with Cohen in saying that economic interdependence, which did not exist during the cold war stand-off, could prevent conflict.

The problem is that many governments in the world  and leaders are beholden to vested interests, banksters and the military industrial complex who dictate plans of action for such war scenarios.

How it will metamorphose into a full blown conflict is a matter of time. Let's be vigilant for the signs and possible pretext to justify it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Na-EDCA-han na naman Tayo" by Erick San Juan

Na-EDCA-han na naman Tayo" by Erick San Juan

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 Recission 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"