On March 21, 2021 a major Philippine daily headlined this, “West PH Sea task force press release on alleged Chinese incursions ‘irks’ Locsin”, for indeed the task force report was the start of another round of “fake-news” agitation and propaganda operation. It’s reminiscent of this January 19, 2019 report and many subsequent others, in the Inquirer and others, “Chinese fishing vessels in WPS are military-controlled”.
But Locsin had to defer to protocol and pass the responsibility of responding to the TF-WPS to the defense department.
Fake-news agit-prop is the use of half-truths to spin a big lie that’s made believable to the uninformed. It’s a standard technique in information warfare.
What is true in the TF-WPS report are the fishing boats numbering around 200, what can’t be established as true is the claim that they are “maritime militia” and that its activity is an ”incursion” as the area in question is disputed among several claimants, not only with China.
Secretary Teodoro Locsin understands this, hence his irritation over the report which, to the keen information analyst, smacks of propaganda. But defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana chose to play along with the report even though he knows there is nothing he can or will do about it except to grandstand until the episode blows over like dozens of such episodes over the decade.
Meanwhile, president Duterte is burdened with the dilemma, like that VFA review or return of Lorenzana.
President Duterte asked “I’d like to put on notice if there’s an American agent here. From now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done, you have to pay for it.” Philippine media rushed to interview Lorenzana who surprised the media hounds by suddenly being very scarce and running from the lime lights.
On the latest fake-news spin he is not scarce now and even putting his president in the crosshairs of the agit-prop ops demanding Duterte drive the Chinese out – which can’ and won’t happen.
It is timely to remind Sec. Lorenzana of his statement in October of 2018 when he told Philippine media, “Normally, fishing boats ng mga Vietnamese sila ang karamihan na pumapasok sa atin eh,” (Normally, fishing boats of the Vietnamese are the most numerous in entering our fishing areas…) The TF-WPS should also be reporting these regular Vietnamese poachers that’s certainly still prowling the WPS, but there aren’t any? It is likely because this is not the interest of the agit-prop plotters.
The Western media, always ready to swarm around anti-China news reports from the Philippines went to work spinning the story. The BBC on March 22, 2021 reports “South China Sea dispute: Huge Chinese ‘fishing fleet’ alarms Philippines”.
Two hundred or 220 fishing boats is not a “huge” fleet. One Filipino fishing fleet I am familiar with, Frabelle Fishing, has 300-400 boats and ships depending on what sizes one includes. That’s for some perspective on what “huge” means in fishing fleet of countries.
Big and small boats included, here are some stats: Japan, 230,000; Korea, 65,906; Mexico, 77,483; US, 82,100; Indonesia, 719,769; Vietnam, 109,586 (2017); China, 682,416; India, 200,000.
According to SEAFDEC the Philippines has 3,473 commercial fishing vessels and 247,146 municipal fishing vessels (motorized and non-motorized).
Two hundred twenty boats is a paltry number but the media can make a single galunggong into a pod of whales.
The two hundred or so boats cited by the TF-WPS and spun by the media into “huge” is a laughable and silly spin, but many in the public don’t know that. With the “sense-surround” quadrophonic global and local media blast the public is spellbound.
Even Google Search algorithm is part of the scheme, just type “South china Sea” and it’s all about the TF-WPS “militia” news report; search for “Locsin” and it’s a dozen pages of the TF-WPS anti-China fake-news story.
The other tag the agit-prop is spinning is the “maritime militia” while presenting no evidence for the claim. For a decade the American agit-prop machine had been spinning this “militia” yarn and tagging every Chinese fishing vessel during fishing season as “militia” when these boats are simply doing what they have been doing for centuries – catching fish. And so are Vietnamese, Malaysian, Taiwanese and Filipino fishermen in the area.
The US agit-prop has tried to create a bogeyman, like the “China virus” and the “China threat”, but all these have flopped because for all the past decades China demonstrated its purely peaceful, economic prosperity initiatives to all parts of the world.
China builds roads, bridges, trains, dams, power systems across the Third World. The US on the other hand created the nightmare wars of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and before that Korea, Vietnam, ad nausea.
The track record of the two countries speaks for themselves. In these virus-stricken times the US opposes Intellectual Property (IP) rights waiver on vaccines. China supports the vaccines IP waiver and donates vaccine to 57 countries? It’s on record that US hijacked anti-Covid 19 supplies and said flat No sharing vaccines with its neighbors Mexico and Canada, while China ramped up exports to these countries.
In the Philippines, US recently donated surplus military equipment in the time of Covid-19 but zero vaccine aid, while promised American commercial vaccine supplies Philippine Ambassador to Washington Babes Romualdez badgered the DOH is nowhere to be found.
China by end of March would already have donated up to 1-million doses of vaccines for Filipino front liners, essential government workers, and essential police and military personnel. America is being left behind in earning the goodwill of Filipinos, hence this latest “maritime militia” gimmick.
America’s bogeyman meme against China can’t work anymore because China is the hope of Asean and the Philippines for economic recovery in the post-Covid 19 crisis, and on towards the future.
The US, even now under the new Biden administration, is still torn between changing and making peace with China and cooperate for prosperity or staying in the same mold of the pernicious war-mongering Uncle Sam of the Cold War era, stumbling, teetering on the verge of financial collapse under the weight of a rowing mountain of debt.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila issued a statement which said, “There is no ‘Chinese Maritime Militia’ as alleged. Any speculation in such helps nothing but causes unnecessary irritation.” Which was exactly the intention of the entire TF-WPS faked-real-news story or half-truth, to cause irritation whichever and whatever way it can; but it also gives us another opportunity to expose the agit-prop for what it is – pure disinformation that eventually discredits the sources.
The Embassy statement also restated what it has long explained in the past, that the “Nie’e Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao (Spratlys). Chinese fishing vessels have been fishing in its adjacent waters for many years… some Chinese fishing vessels take shelter near Niu’e Jian due to rough conditions. It has been a normal practice for Chinese fishing vessels to take shelter under such circumstances.”
The final spin from the US on the fake- news or half-truth agit-prop operation is the US announcement “We stand with the Philippines” headlined by some Western mainstream media outlets.
They are then followed through by the bevy of paid hacks like Dick Pascual et al demanding Duterte challenge China to embarrass Duterte. Nothing of that sort is going to happen of course, after a few more pro forma statements from the DND and DFA the issue will fade like a gust of wind that it is.
Philippine and World media is still mainly focused on the Covid 19 pandemic and the continuing Chinese vaccine humanitarianism still stands out. On March 23 another batch of 400,000 Sinovac donations arrived.
Attention will revert to the real issues, the TF-WPS twisted report will be forgotten soon while the China-Philippine cooperation and achievement will continue to ascend. In about two-months’ time, the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge linking Makati to Mandaluyong will open to communters, some months later the Intramuros-Binondo bridge, and so on.
Meanwhile, China, Vietnam, Philippine, Malaysian, Taiwanese fishing vessels will continue to ply their trade in the disputed waters while the Code of Conduct between China and ASEAN is perfected.
What is Agit Prop anyway? Hasan Piker explains why he named the show “Agit Prop” challenging the status quo from a post-capitalist perspective. Piker is among The Young Turks or TYT, a news and opinion show now on YouTube and other platforms run by American liberals and progressives covering covers politics, lifestyle, pop culture, science, sport and other social topics. It began as a radio program in February 14, 2002, on Sirius Satellite Radio. Today it is on through a 24-hour YouTube feed to social media platforms Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as on Air American Amazon Prime Direct, iTunes, Hulu, Roku, Xumo and Pluto TV.