Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bullying who? By Erick San Juan

Bullying who? By Erick San Juan

In recent events in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) where the US has shown its military power both air and sea created another tensed situation, which could lead not only to a regional conflict but a global war.

Situations like this could be avoided, as what Henry Kissinger, America’s prominent former secretary of state, had said, that the U.S. and China should look to the example of Deng Xiaoping when it comes to defusing China’s disputes with other claimants in the South China Sea.

“Deng Xiaoping dealt with some of his problems by saying not every problem needs to be solved in the existing generation,” Kissinger said in Singapore, where he attended Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral. “Let’s perhaps wait for another generation but let’s not make it worse.”
Applied to the South China Sea situation, that might mean shelving knotty issues surrounding territorial and maritime claims for now and perhaps even focusing on joint development.
 Kissinger is hardly the first person to suggest this. Just last month, Kurt Campbell, who was America’s top diplomat in the Asia-Pacific under the Obama administration until 2013, suggested at a keynote address to the Jamestown Foundation’s Fifth Annual Defense and Security Conference that the best we could do in the current environment is “export these problems into the future” and “establish some degree of understanding that the status quo or moderate adjustment of the status quo is in the best interest of all.”

However, while such an approach might be ideal in theory, Campbell himself admitted that in practice, no one is embracing this idea in the South China Sea.

“I think it would be fair to say not only have we been unsuccessful in basically persuading Chinese friends that this is the right approach in the South China Sea and elsewhere; we haven’t had very much success with other countries in that context as well,” he said. (Source: Prashanth Parameswaran, 4-7-15)

Time is of the essence as China is ‘hurriedly’ building structures in the reclaimed areas in the SCS and putting the territorial disputes in the back burner will give much time for China’s growth in the area. Which is why China wants bilateral talks in order to gain leverage in all aspects being the region’s superpower compared to the smaller claimant-countries.

Why are we being bullied by China? No thanks to the Mt Pinatubo explosion that discreetly pressured the US government to vacate Clark air base and Subic naval base and not the so called 'Magnificent 12'  anti- bases senators. The worst, the abrupt withdrawal led to a power vacuum not allowing our nation to develop a security plan. Our military camp was even privatized in the guise of modernizing our armed forces and make it self-reliant in vain.

In the recent development in the contested areas in the SCS, some pundits assessed US as the new bully, using sophisticated air and sea assets near China’s reclamation projects. But if one will look at it in another angle, there could be another motive by this aggressive move by the US military in the region, and this might involve the Philippines.

Talks about revisiting the Mutual Defense Treaty together with the Visiting Forces Agreement and the recent one – Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement could be the reason why suddenly the US is in the picture using the South China Sea territorial issues. The 'big brother' is sending the message that we need them very badly especially in the midst of the Bangsamoro Basic Law hearing.

We have to be wary and very observant  as to the real motives of this new ‘play’. Is the US – China tension for real, or is it all for a show? We have been used as a cannon fodder and was put in the crosshairs from Uncle Sam’s foes in the past. If we will allow it again this time, we are really looking for trouble.

Again, no thanks to our corrupt leadership.

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