Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Might is Right by Erick San Juan

Might is Right by Erick San Juan

In the midst of the anticipation and excitement before the much awaited State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the newly elected President Rodrigo Roa Duterte plus the euphoria over the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague) ruling in favor of the Philippines against China, there were several important international meetings/conferences we overlooked.

Among these meetings were the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and other key ASEAN-related meetings – including East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a 27-member security dialogue – held from July 23-26 in Vientiane, Laos, ASEAN’s current chair and the Trident Special Defense Symposium at the Solaire Hotel in Metro Manila.

It would be good to note that while other pro-China and the Chinese media itself seemed to project China as the underdog in the South China Sea dispute with the US siding with our country, we'll take a look again.

In the several meetings among ASEAN and non-ASEAN members, the pressure tactics employed by China were quite obvious. The mere fact that the ASEAN meetings host country of Laos (and Cambodia) both had their objections and did not join in expressing any common position on the verdict.

The objection of Cambodia and Laos, both of which are Beijing’s allies and largely depend on it economically, is seen as the reason behind ASEAN’ “no-statement” or “no-comment.”

Beijing allegedly uses it's economic influence to lobby its two small and poor neighbors and that it exploits ASEAN’s consensus, the regional grouping’s modus operandi, to divide ASEAN on the South China Sea issue is universally recognized.

In 2012, ASEAN failed – for the first time in its history – to issue a joint communiqué after its AMM in Cambodia. Last month, for the second time, it was unable to agree on a joint statement after a special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kunming, China. In fact, it released a statement but retracted it immediately afterward.

If China succeeds in doing so, which will likely result in ASEAN’s failure to issue a joint statement for the third time, the regional organization’s unity, centrality and even its existence are greatly threatened.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the grouping to maintain its centrality in the Asia-Pacific’s evolving regional architecture if it is continuously split and manipulated by a powerful outsider.

It's relevance is also greatly questioned if it ignores the South China Sea disputes, which is probably the region’s biggest security concern. Moreover, four ASEAN members – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – are directly involved in the disputes.

As it is also seeking to establish and advocate for a rules-based regional order, ASEAN cannot be silent on a ruling by an international court established under the aegis of UNCLOS.

While in another important conference at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM, a biennial summit of Asian and European leaders), in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from July 15-16, it did not directly mention the South China Sea dispute in its closing statement.

The European Union (EU) was only able to issue a statement on the South China Sea ruling on July 15, three days after the PCA published its award. Moreover, this declaration made by Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative, on behalf of the 28-member bloc, did not directly name China.

The EU, which is an ardent advocate of the rule of law, failed to release an immediate and more strongly worded statement on The Hague ruling because Croatia, Hungary and Greece reportedly blocked it.

These small EU members, notably the latter, are facing many economic problems and seeking closer economic ties with Beijing.

While the EU managed to issue a common – though rather weak by its standards – statement on the PCA’s award, ASEAN has conspicuously failed to do so.

China’s blunt interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN, whose core principle is non-interference, has already alienated many ASEAN members. Its relationship with ASEAN is actually at a very low ebb.

If China continues to pursue its long held divide and rule tactics vis-à-vis ASEAN, it will further anger many ASEAN members and push them to seek closer ties with the US, Beijing’s geopolitical rival. This is not good for China in the long run.

It's a realpolitik approach or “might-makes-right” strategy to the South China Sea issue which is being questioned and scrutinized. It is also facing huge regional and international pressure that may eventually prompt it to comply – either partly or fully – with the PCA’s ruling. (Source: Will China’s realpolitik prevail in sea row? by Xuan Loc Doan, 7/23/16)

As to what extent thus the international community can extend its hand to China to comply with the rule of law? And with China’s might makes right policy, it will continue to bully its neighbors especially the Philippines even after the PCA ruling.

As the countries in the SCS area continue to turn to the US for moral and military support, tensions in the SCS will also continue to rise. And this will never look good for China and it will assert its claim using the nine-dash line based on its so called historic rights. An end to this dispute is farfetched if China will not adhere to what is right and push for who is mightier and stronger militarily.

One have to analyze and understand why China’s Xi Jinping is so stubborn and does not listen to reason.

Leaders like Xi and Turkey's Erdogan, (who reportedly hatched his own palace coup ala Ferdinand Marcos) tried anticipating future ouster by creating plans to ferret out their enemies from within. The worst is Xi who pretends to be strong by bullying us.

The leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte shows adherence to the rule of law even when it was not during his term that the country went to PCA at the Hague for arbitration. President Duterte’s concern is to preserve peace in the region and war is definitely not the answer to solve the territorial disputes.
 Pres. Duterte is correct, we will not start a fight with China, its the right strategy. We just want to get what is due us especially our fishermen through co-existence and to have freedom to sail and catch fish and other marine life in the SCS-WPS area.

Actually, Xi’s bullying is an art of war so as not to show his domestic problems and weaknesses. The situation in China will not be a repeat of Tiananmen Square incident because Xi is fighting so many fronts from within this time. He has to heed Deng Xiao Ping’s popular warning that if there will be a Chinese tyrant leader,a bully and aggressor, the people of the world should work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it, a possible truth that could happen anytime soon.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

China's posturing comes from one of hatred for its two arch nemesis, i.e. Japan and the United States. Japan for its war atrocities vs China and its refusal to return the Senkaku islands which it invaded during the war; and The U.S. whose continued meddling in this region continues to remind China of its bitter shame of having Western Powers cherry-picking its territories.

If the ASEAN would simply cooperate with China's bid to right historical wrongs and oust foreign irritants off this region, ASEAN would stand to benefit so much from Chinese big-brother support.