Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Who Do We Trust? By Erick San Juan

Who Do We Trust? By Erick San Juan

"In the course of our country’s history when the timing of some major events is suspected for something else… there really is something else."

One recent example was the article posted at http://www.wantchinatimes.com/, Did Beijing concede to US by calling off South China Sea land reclamation? (June 20), “China's foreign ministry suddenly announced this week that it is suspending land reclamation efforts on islands and reefs in the disputed South China Sea."

The official media line on the suspension is that it is because the projects are "complete," however other media outlets have framed the decision as a compromise reached between Beijing and Washington, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

"China and the United States have insisted on their respective positions in the dispute over the South China Sea, from the Chinese military asking US jets conducting patrol duties in the area to leave, to China's issuing of a defense white paper to show its concern over its maritime interests and the 2015 Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore where representatives from the two countries defended their respective positions.”

The meeting of high-ranking officials from China and the United States that is taking place June 22 and 23 in Washington DC for the seventh China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the sixth China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), discussing issues ranging from security to the economy and people-to-people exchanges. Prior to President Xi Jinping of China’s plan to visit the US in September, China and the US are set to engage in more economic cooperation.

So there could be no compromise on the territorial disputes unless coming major events/meetings are actually the real reason for such decision.

Another major event – the 2015 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series that kicked off (June 22) in an opening ceremony in Puerto Princesa that will last until June 26.

CARAT Philippines will take place on the ground in Puerto Princesa and in the waters and airspace of the Sulu Sea. The exercise will focus on combined operations at sea, mobile dive and salvage training, coastal and river operations, plus maritime patrol and reconnaissance. It will feature the inaugural participation of littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) along with rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50) and forward-deployed P-3 Orion aircraft.

"CARAT is the US premier naval engagement in South and Southeast Asia. The bilateral and multilateral exercises provide a regional venue to develop strong maritime partnerships that contribute to the greater peace and stability of the region participated in by Members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterpart."

Following CARAT Philippines, additional bilateral phases of CARAT will occur from July through November 2015 with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Now that the Japanese navy also joined in a separate naval exercises with our country, generally these events are crucial to the “activities” that China has been doing in the South China Sea (SCS).

We have to be wary because we really don’t know who is our ally and our enemy. Pundits are suspicious that the saber rattling among party of interest could lead to something else.

Who do we trust?

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