Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Opinion
Chinese hegemony
By Bong Lacson

Apr 24, 2018

“IF WE don’t protest, we acquiesce. We consent impliedly.”

Thus, spoke acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on China’s landing of military aircraft on Panganiban Reef (internationally known as Mischief Reef), located within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea, also known as South China Sea.

“To preserve our rights: No, we don’t agree [to the landings]. That’s ours [Panganiban Reef]. It remains [disputed]. If we don’t protest, [for them] it’s no longer disputed.” So was Carpio quoted in news reports.

It is not only Carpio that noted that the Duterte administration – in keeping with it’s no-displeasing-China-at all-cost policy – is doing nothing in the wake of this apparent transgression but for the perfunctory “taking all diplomatic actions,” which, coming from one Alan Peter Cayetano, amounted to zilch.

The nation’s helplessness towards anything aggressively Chinese when it comes to our territories – and more, I had the conceit to articulate in this piece of April 22, 2012.

“IN A state so insignificant our commerce would be a prey to the wanton intermeddlings of all nations at war with each other; who, having nothing to fear from us, would with little scruple or remorse, supply their wants by depredations on our property as often as it fell in their way. The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.”

So wrote in 1787 Alexander Hamilton, pennamed Publius, of the then-fledgling United States in The Federalist No. 11, titled The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commercial Relations and a Navy.


We are now that nation, most despicable at our weakest, forfeiting not just neutrality but our very own territory. Sabah is but a generation removed from today, still relatively too recent to be forgotten.

And last week, it was the Scarborough Shoal.

The Chinese intrusion into the sandbank is but the latest of that country’s infringement upon our territory, the area well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as recognised by international law.

To China, the shoal is but a part of its irredentist claim to all of the South China Sea, including waters abutting the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, not to mention Taiwan, which it has always regarded as its province.

To many, China’s Scarborough affair has found an analogy in the stranger who barges into a home, rapes the wife, and then proclaims ownership over the whole household. With the man of the house kept outside, a weakling reduced to whining.

Come to think of it, this is the second time that we, as “a nation despicable by its weakness,” have forfeited territory to the China bully.

In February 1995, it was discovered that China had already occupied the Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands and set up structures which the Chinese said were meant to shelter their fishermen working the waters in the area.

Mischief Reef, claimed by the Philippines as Panganiban Reef, is 150 miles west of Palawan – well within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone too, while it lies a very distant 620 miles southeast of China.

Still, China had its way. No matter the protestations of the Philippines and Vietnam, no matter the alarms in the ASEAN over China’s territorial aggressions, diplomatically termed “assertions.”

A powder keg in the South China Sea, so were the disputed Spratly’s considered in many “strategic studies” since. The Scarborough Shoal now providing an added fuse.

Defused last Friday, April 13, was the tension at the Scarborough Shoal.

After days of stand-off , seven Chinese vessels including their marine survey vessel, the Zhungguo Haijan 75, left the area by noon, and around 7 p.m., five more vessels pulled out leaving only one in the shoal. So, reported Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, Northern Luzon Command chief.

“Wala nang tension [There’s no more tension].” So was Alcantara quoted as saying, underscoring that the Chinese pull-out was “apparently the result of the negotiation by our foreign department with that of the Chinese counterparts.”

So all’s well that ends well?

Not quite, from this corner.

The quote from that little red book I have consigned to memory – of the Great Helmsman’s counsel to the youth: “China is yours as well as ours, but in the long run it will be yours” – gravely bothers me.

Paraphrased thus: “The Philippines are yours as well as ours, but in the short run, they will be ours.”

Chinese hegemony here. Or haven’t you yet noticed who rules and reigns in this country, from its economics to its politics? Sy, Tan, Go, Kong, Wei. Co-Wang-Co.

Wapelo.

YEAH, WORSE yet now with this President that is an idolater to Xi Jinping, this President that is awe-struck at anything and everything Chinese.

More than this nation, it is its President that is truly despicable in his weakness.

Who was it who said power-tripping is the way of the weakling, and show of force but a front for cowardice?

Bully.



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