Coast Guard ships all over the world as instruments of enforcement of law are, as a rule armed with light weapons. The Philippines demonstrated this to the world in 2013 when one of its Coast Guard ships fired machine gun round into the Taiwanese fishing boat Guang Ming killing its captain and creating a serious diplomatic scene.
The past week the Philippine mainstream media launched a virulent disinformation campaign against China’s new Coast Guard law that specified use of weapons among its means of in the performance of its mission over China’s territory. Almost every nation, including the Philippines, the U.S. and Japan, have this in their rules for their respective coast guard forces.
That China’s coast guard aw was really a non-issue was shown by Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin’s initial reaction to the media inquiries with him, and he tweeted: “It’s none of our business; it is China’s business what laws it passes; so please a little self-restraint. I devised a visa rubber stamp that stamps most of the South China Sea and parts of North Borneo as our national territory and no one has complained. I forgot to include Guam.
Secretary Locsin was perfectly correct about everything in that tweet, the law was an internal matter of China and it was not directed at any one in particular. But probably detecting an on-coming anti-China media campaign that comes with regularity, again as we should be accustomed to by now, Locsin had some “reflection” and changed his mind firing of a diplomatic protest to fend off criticisms of his boss’ “independent foreign policy”.
China’s successful vaccine humanitarianism
This latest anti-China propaganda barrage comes right out of the “China threat” manufacturing network of think tanks, mainstream and social media disinformation factories all over the world, all getting its raw materials from the Western news wires Reuters, AP, AFP et al. In the Philippine the PDR-taking media networks are at the core of these factories.
The PDRs are the Philippine Depository Receipts or “investments” taking (i.e envelopes, in local media under the computer table speak) media outfits like the Rappler, PDI, Philippine Star and t he like. These are not the petty envelopes like what some reporters get from politicians, these are multi-million Dollar funds like the $ 5-millin Rappler got from Omidyar in just one admitted case.
The latest output of these “China threat” factories may have been prompted by the increasingly successful vaccine humanitarianism that the West, in particular the US, seems to see as another threat to its global status while heightening China’s credibility and stature in the global community – especially in the developing world and in Eastern Europe (Hungary, Serbia are taking China’s vaccines).
Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna are slowly being exposed as problematic vaccines for some categories of the public to take, such as seniors and very junior patients, and those with weakened immune system, as well as the production and cold storage limitations of these two Pharma giants that is hobbling deliveries of millions of doses even inside the U.S.
Desperation of US and Amboy propagandists
The US and “amboy” (American boys) propagandist from Gregory Poling of the CSIS’s AMTI (CIA progeny Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Institute), and the locals of CSIS’s Stratbase ADR (Albert del Rosario, former Noynoy foreign secretary) from Justice Antonio Caprio to US hack Richard Heydarian and Poling crony Jay Batongbacal are desperate.
Along with Rappler, Inquirer and the rest are resorting to the use of outright lies and fake news reported as real news, just to disrupt and discredit the good works of the Duterte administration in its cooperative efforts with China. The latest outright lie, as an adjunct to the distortion of the China Coast Guard Law, is the “Chinese Coast Guard harassment of Filipino fishermen” yarn.
The Philippine Navy six days after the first report of a Filipino harassed by China’s Coast Guard near Pag-asa Island officially denies any report of harassment of Filipino fishermen by the Chinese Coast Guard. The inquirer report, which was also the originator of the fake news, quotes the Navfor West “Per verification at Pag=asa detachment, there is no reported incident of harassment of fishermen in the sandbars…”
The Filipino media audiences have been subject to these fake and/or distorted news for over a decade now since Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” with no let up, indirect attacks against Duterte for his “independent foreign policy” while directly eroding the positive diplomacy and humanitarianism of China’s crusade for a “multi-polar world” and “Community of Shared Future for Mankind”.
Former Supreme Court justice who now is a regular columnist in the PDI as expected wrote on the fake news interpretation of China’s new Coast Guard Law, calling the law a “legal virus”, saying the law “allows China’s Coast Guard to destroy structures built by other states on Chinese-claimed geologic features in the South China Sea…”
Everybody should know that China’s South China Sea diplomacy has been the epitome of decades of peaceful and respectful regard for occupied islands and features that they could easily takeover with superior force if so desired – but they do not. They call for dialogue and negotiations, and over the water they seek like the rest of ASEAN the Code of Conduct to guide every stakeholder using the waters.
My colleague Ado Paglinawan, in reviewing one of my articles on this, opined that Carpio is just the “same old, same old” engaging in recollections of his long-lost days of momentary glory as chief advocate of the “arbitration’ and promising that it would “shame China” and “alienate China”. Now China has won a seat in the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea itself, the body that rules on the laws of the sea.
But the arbitration case is not boring to others who consider themselves as laymen and still seek to understand why the process is so irrelevant now. One information still scarcely known is the Office of the UN Secretary-General itself through spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “The UN doesn’t have a position on the legal and procedural merits” of the South China Sea arbitration – a diplomatic way of saying it did not recognize the procedure.
Biden in a nasty bind
Around two months ago I wrote an article entitled “Without China, Trump Failed; Without China, Biden will Fail”, the unfolding events in the US, Chinese and global economy continues to bear this out, and the Philippines now allied economically to China will be a major beneficiary of things to come the rest of this decade.
The much-awaited collapse of the US and its once all-mighty Dollar is just around the corner, and the best evidence of this is the appreciation of the Philippine Peso against the Dollar despite the desperate straits of the Philippine economy in this Covid-19 crisis. Yet, the Philippines’ prospects are so bright that even Fitch’s rating project a 7% growth for the Philippines this year.
The Biden administration’s State Department Secretary Antony Blinken may sound hawkish on China, which is what he needed to sound to get senate bi-artisan confirmation, but months down the road I expect the Biden team to heed the US business sector to go easy with China, keep the China market open to US chips manufacturers and US markets more open to goods US companies produce in China anyway.
US trade pressures on China will force China to spur self-reliant indsutries, just as Huawei, Xiao Mi, SMIC and 87 other firms are consolidating funds and scientific talents to expand China’s semiconductor industry, better to restores China’s dependence on US chips manufacturing by eventually easing the trade war. In time, the South China Sea issue will also ease, as the US can’t win and can’t afford more years of military overspending 10,000 kilometers away from the homeland.
No Threats, only a “China Promise”
Ancient China in its new reinvigorated transmigrated form is still old China with all the lessons of history ingrained in its cultural and political genetic make-up. The old Qin passion for consolidating “All Under the Heaven” is long passed and satiated as China today alone is already too big for easy governance without having to take on conflicts and tensions with other states.
China today is the modern China with modern, scientific based Socialist vision of the “multi-polar world” working with all nations across a round table in a “Commnity of Shared Future for Mankind”, with a global economic, technological and scientific “win-win” program of bridges round the globe (Belt and Road) to link and enhance all economies to the maximum productivity.
I watched a Straits Times and World Economic Forum sponsored webinar conducted just a week ago, and what one resource person, historian and history professor Wan Gang Woo of the National University of Singapore who said something we should all totally agree with:
“This perception of threat … is not to the US… it is to their accustomed place… as hegemon of the world… one way to get away from that mindset is to concentrate on what the whole world really needs including America … and that is concentrating on economic recovery from what has been happening … the global economic recovery will not happen in a year or two… it will be tremendous effort on the part of all the countries…”
Filipinos’ contribution to global recovery and peace.
The Philippines, in particularly, holds the key to peace in our time. It is the pivotal land and sea between the Pacific where the U.S. lies with its military forces spread across scattered islands to Australia and on to the continental USA farthest eastward. The US has always coveted the Philippines for its use as a naval and air force base for control of Asia. President Duterte has denied this to the US, hence forestalling any final aggressive plan on China.
All Filipinos must be made to understand and appreciate this to protect their own future and ensure their own economic recovery and final prosperity that can only be realized with a long era of stability, tranquility and harmony in the region which any conflict will upset and disrupt – maybe for another hundred years.
It is for this reason that right-minded Filipinos, true nationalists and patriots, genuine devotees of the Philippines’ and the Filipino’s welfare, must oppose and denounce the manufacturers of the “China Threat” yarns, and even shut them down for good if possible, not only those in media but also those in the senate, the congress, the Big Business sector and the academe. Though unlikely to completely happen, it is still a mission that must persist. ###
(Herman Tiu Laurel is founder of Philippine BRICS Strategic Studies, a geopolitical think tank advocating the multipolar world, and a former regular columnist of several newspapers, radio-TV- social media educator, a former administrator of a UN-GOP project, and senatorial candidate in 1995.)