Monday, November 9, 2015

To Whose Interest? by Erick San Juan

To Whose Interest? by Erick San Juan

Yes–China Is A Threat to U.S. Interests by Matt Vespa posted at last  November 6. Vespa stated that “Over the past couple of years, China has built several man-made islands near the Spratly archipelago to prevent any challenges to China’s sovereignty in the region (via the Diplomat):

"The United States and China are hurtling toward a showdown over Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy is poised to sail near seven artificial islands China constructed in the Spratly archipelago over the past two years as a means to challenge any excessive or illegitimate Chinese sovereignty claims there."

In Beijing, meanwhile, opposition to U.S. Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) around the artificial islands is hardening, as evidenced by the threat China’s state-run Xinhua news agency issued last week:

"America’s provocative attempt to infringe on China’s South China Sea sovereignty are sabotaging regional peace and stability and militarizing the waters…China will never tolerate any military provocation or infringement on sovereignty from the United States or any other country, just as the United States refused it 53 years ago [during the Cuban Missile Crisis]."

This Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) issue was answered by China’s President Xi Jinping  in a promise to safeguard freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where tensions have flared due to overlapping claims and the US Navy’s move to challenge Beijing’s massive island building.

Speaking at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, China's President Xi said there has never been any problem with freedom of navigation and overflight, “nor will there ever be in the future.”

He said China need unimpeded passage through the waters more than anyone else.

“We have absolute confidence and capability in maintaining the peace and stability. This can be done through negotiations and the establishment of reasonable maritime rights,” Xi added.

China criticized last week’s patrol of the USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, within the 12-nautical-mile (22-kilometer) territorial limit of Subi Reef, one of the South China Sea features that have been claimed, expanded and reinforced by China over objections of other claimants, particularly the Philippines.

The US Navy said it wanted to demonstrate the principle of freedom of navigation.

China has called it a “deliberate provocation,” and sent two warships to shadow the US vessel and issued warnings. Although China labeled the action illegal, international law allowed warships to transit other countries’ territorial seas under the principle of “innocent passage.” (AP posted at

It would be an endless issue until China gives in from what they claimed as undisputed sovereignty over territories as per historical ‘facts’ according to their history books. Otherwise other claimants  have the right to their claim based on international law.

A very hot and controversial issue that will go down in history and could span over several administrations which was suggested by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, that the country’s dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea should be made an election issue, with each presidential candidate obliged to make public his or her stand. And that the question will be “if elected president, ‘will you withdraw the case, if it’s still pending’?” he said.

Methinks that our ‘relationship’ with Uncle Sam should be included also as one of the election issues. The pending passage of EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) should be tackled and the next set of leaders must give their stand on giving up our military bases as forward bases by the US military troops as hundreds of US soldiers will be based here on rotational basis in line with Obama’s pivot to Asia soon.

If China will continue to threaten the region as per the American view, our next leaders must give their clear foreign policy and not just rely on day to day band-aid solution to any eventuality that will come our way as a sovereign nation.

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