Tuesday, May 3, 2016

There Is No Stopping The Word War

There Is No Stopping The Word War
By Erick San Juan

In the two-day meeting of the G7 (US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) recently in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the group issued a joint statement saying: “We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasise the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes. We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions.”

The G7 also urged “all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations” and “building of outposts... for military purposes”. (AFP)

Obviously the statement of the G7 was directed on China even without directly saying it. And such comments angered China in the process, according to reports.

Beijing indicated that it felt targeted by the comments. In his response, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated China's belief it has a legitimate claim to the territory.

He urged the foreign ministers to "stop making irresponsible remarks and all irresponsible actions, and truly play a constructive role for regional peace and stability".

And the word war continues as Russia came to the rescue and sided with China on the South China Sea issue.

“Russia backed China’s stand on the disputed South China Sea (SCS) issue and said ‘external’ forces should not interfere in the maritime dispute, an apparent reference to the U.S. presence in the area.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and told him that the SCS issue should be resolved peacefully through political means, such as negotiations between the parties directly concerned, while ‘external’ forces should refrain from interfering.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international laws, including the pacts reached between China and ASEAN, are the legal frameworks that should be followed.”

Unfortunately, China really wanted bilateral agreement/negotiations between China and claimants in the contested area in the SCS and will not heed to UNCLOS decision. Even though Russia stated that China should follow such international laws.

Now it’s between Russia/China and the claimants in the SCS and also the US who is very vocal concerning the freedom of navigation op.

There seems to be no stopping this word wars and as long as they continue this, tensions will escalate and might lead to something else that will not end up so well.

As we await the decision of the Tribunal of the UNCLOS on the petition of our country regarding contested area in the SCS, together with the rest of the region, China is eyeing to build structures (airstrip) in Scarborough Shoal which some pundits believe will escalate the already tensed situation in the region.

And with the coming elections, China is hoping that the next Philippine President will be kinder enough to settle the SCS issue in their favor and be less dependent on Uncle Sam’s influence.

From the article of Richard Javad Heydarian (Assistant Professor in political science at De La Salle University), Asia’s New Battlefield: The Philippines’ South China Sea Moment of Truth – “At this point, everything boils down to how far the United States is willing to go to aid its beleaguered ally. There is growing pressure on the Obama administration to openly extend the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty to Scarborough Shoal in order to deter further Chinese belligerence. After all, America’s current policy of strategic ambiguity doesn’t seem to have worked. As America ramps up its military presence in the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, it has no interest in seeing China establishing military bases eerily close to Philippine shores.

More directly, the Philippines also has the option of deploying frigates and coast-guard vessels to block any efforts by China to build military facilities on the contested shoal, with America providing back up support—through reconnaissance missions and aerial patrols, inter alia—by maintaining a robust presence ‘just over the horizon’. The two allies have been already conducting joint patrols in contested waters. America is currently augmenting its military footprint, particular air power, in the Philippines, signaling preparations for potential contingency interventions in coming months. In the Scarborough Shoal, America is expected to come to the Philippines’ rescue if Philippine “armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific” come under attack by a third party (China) in an event of armed clashes. The United States, along with allies such as Japan and Australia, are also expected to assume the de facto role of enforcers once the arbitration verdict is out. Whether it wants it or not, the Philippines is now at the center of Asia’s new strategic battlefield.”

God forbid what we have been saying all this time that our country is the next battleground, the possible epicenter of conflict. Let us pray harder that our next leader will be blessed with great wisdom to avoid such stupid war and settle this centuries old dispute once and for all.

No comments: