By Ambassador Reynaldo Arcilla
Is China a peace-loving nation determined to pursue its present economic goals for the welfare of its people, rather than get involved in pursuits that might lead to military confrontation with other countries?
In reaction, Mr. Sluggo Rigor, a reader from the US, wrote:
“Thank you for sharing this wisdom-laden opinion column of yours, Amba Rey.
“Like you, I think China will not go to war unless in defense of its forces. My humble reading is they are helping Third World nations to eradicate poverty and build up poorer economies so they become future markets for China’s burgeoning industries.
“The Chinese Beltway initiative addressing poorer countries is a powerful international PR tool that can only come from a wise and practical Confucian thinking.
“Added food-for-thought shared by thinking observers and pundits in our community: There are Chinatowns in every major city in the world and they are generally peaceful and only business-oriented.
“China’s Great Wall has always been a symbol of protectionism instead of aggressiveness.
“Finally, more and more believe long before Western colonizers invaded our shores, early Filipinos had traded with China. There were occasional conflicts but history shows the Chinese were more interested in business and trading and inter-marriages.”
Catching up on the South China Seas
President Rodrigo Duterte broached the idea of convening a meeting with his living predecessors to discuss the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute.
It turned out to be a nonstarter. To begin with, nothing was ever heard from former president Fidel V. Ramos. And we know the reaction of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd.
What we would like to suggest instead is the convening of a meeting of the National Security Council, or a body to be created for the purpose by the President, to fully discuss Philippine-US relations in every aspect. It is long overdue.
And it couldn’t be timelier. The prevailing atmosphere in China-US relations demands it.
For instance, according to his spokesman, Digong is still thinking if the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US would help us if the WPS dispute worsens. Its twice postponed abrogation is now due to take effect on August 10 this year.
Our view is that the VFA, along with the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) ought to be abrogated before the WPS dispute worsens for reasons we have stated many times over in this space.
Suffice it to cite at this time what Digong himself and his defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana have said, i.e., “a military clash between the two will most certainly draw Chinese attack on the Philippines where US troops and military bases are located.”
Top US government officials keep announcing to the world that an armed attack on the Philippines by China “will trigger the activation of the MDT.” As the saying goes, “go tell that to the Marines.” Too, if the US officials think China believes that, they have another thing coming.
However, if the US offers to sit down with us to discuss the pertinent provision in the MDT that requires both parties to go through their “constitutional processes” to activate the treaty and replace it with an “automatic retaliation” clause, could be a different story.
To begin with, China is not looking towards a military confrontation with the US. It is the latter that keeps doing and saying things that are provocative in nature to the Chinese.
For instance, the US naval sail-bys in Taiwan, and the legislation now being considered in the US Congress called “Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act,” or Eagle Act.
And to think Washington is doing these when it is right now preoccupied with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its disputes with Iran and with Russia over Ukraine, and its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In fact, the US Seventh Fleet led by the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan, will reportedly be deployed to the Middle East to oversee the evacuation of US troops in Afghanistan, thus leaving the “simmering” West Philippine Sea situation “uncovered.”
An analyst says the sudden decision of the British government to send navy ships to the South China Sea could have been at Washington’s behest to fill the temporary gap left by the deployment of the USS Reagan to the Middle East.
According to this paper’s editorial of May 25, 2021, the British fleet is led by its biggest warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by two destroyers, two frigates, a submarine and two support ships.
Speculations are rife the British were “prevailed” upon by Washington to temporarily fill the gap to be left by the US Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea – not as claimed by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
The Manila Times editorial said Wallace glowingly described the carrier strike group’s mission as “to write Britain’s name in the next chapter of history – a truly global Britain that steps forward to tackle the challenges of tomorrow, working hand-in-hand with our friends to defend our shared values and uphold the rules-based international order.”
“Cutting through the jingoistic jargon, the flotilla’s deployment simply is Britain’s way of reintroducing itself as a global naval force that is ready to engage in a conflict anywhere in the world,” the editorial further said.
Yeah, right. Someone ought to tell Wallace the sun has long set over the erstwhile British empire, just as its monarchy is beginning to crumble!
At least, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was more prudent and realistic when he said the deployment will help to project British soft power such as a belief in democracy and the rule of law.
Carpio and Del Rosario, getting desperate
THE following are sub-headlines of stories published in the May 1, 2021 online edition of the Inquirer regarding asinine statements by former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio that border on the ludicrous:
– “Carpio: Duterte main problem in WPS”
– “Carpio: Time to rouse Duterte from sleep, tell him China doesn’t possess the WPS”
– “Carpio: PH needs president who puts Filipinos first instead of China”
– “Carpio to “sleeping” Duterte: China is not in possession of West Philippine Sea”
That President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has responded to or rebutted Carpio’s absurd assertions, including previous ones, in both the newspapers and on TV is actually doing Carpio a favor. By doing so, the nitwit gets double exposure for inane views only the opposition (the Yellowtards and the Yankeephiles among them, some of whom may also be found in Digong’s camp) are interested in for the simple reason they are on the opposite side of the fence. If the situation were to change tomorrow, you will find all or many of them jumping over the fence posthaste. Such is politics!
And the mainstream media partly or wholly owned by Yellow oligarchs and their cohorts, both local and foreign, are only too happy to publish Carpio’s imbecilic remarks. I say ignore him.
Another fellow who should be totally ignored henceforth is ex-foreign secretary Albert del Rosario of the unrepentant PNoy Aquino regime.
Del Rosario has now resorted to peddling the implausible yarn Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal was lost because of China’s deceit. If that were so, surely it could only be part of the story.
Be as it may, we believe the administration should likewise start ignoring completely any statement del Rosario makes on the South China Sea dispute. The poor fellow has already long-lost credibility. As we said in a previous column, historical ignominy now awaits him.
If we may further humbly suggest, the administration should also henceforth stop referring to the dead-in-the-water arbitral ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). As we have explained in this space several times before, the PCA totally ignored the conditio sine qua non for any arbitration case, i.e., both parties must agree and participate in it. China did not, thus making its ruling null and void ab initio.
Beware of fake news
There is a YouTube channel called “American patriot military” which regularly purveys astounding news, to say the least; complete with video clips, which I copied verbatim:
1. “Brutal attack (April 29) 10 Philippine warships surround China maritime militia ships in West PH Sea,” 8K views, 1 day ago
2. “China shocked (April 29) US give Philippines 100 units of Apache and Viper and 200 Hellfire missiles,” 167K views, 2 weeks ago
3. “China panic (April 29) US give again 114 military vehicles to Philippines, China and Russia shocked,” 28K views, 2 weeks ago
4. “China angry (April 29) Philippines Coast Guard catch China vessel in Bataan, we are not afraid of the law,” 588K views, 1 month ago
5. “Brutal attack (April 29) Philippines attack Chinese fishing fleet built secretly to rob fish in PH sea,” 29K views, 3 weeks ago
6. “China panic (Apo. 29) US give the Philippines more military assets against China/pay for VFA,” 204K views, published on March 21, 2021
Another interesting item we saw on another YouTube channel called “US military developments” is one titled “Filipinos must see this! US supplies 30 newest fighter jets to Philippine/PH adds 5000 troops at sea,” 100K views, published on April 8, 2021.
Yet another item attributed to the same YouTube channel is “Dangerous! South Korea donates 20 largest fighter jets to PH Air Force amid sea feud with China,” 71K views, published on April 19, 2021.
Considering their high-level significance, it seems rather strange we have not heard or read anything about the above items in the mainstream media both here and abroad. They are definitely fake3 news.
In any case, we believe the authorities concerned should look into these matters and inform the Filipino people of the real lowdown on them.
Pathetic is how we would describe it.
According to a recent survey, 63 percent of Filipinos prefer to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with US-made Pfizer or Moderna not because they have been proven to be more effective than those made in other countries such as China, Russia or the United Kingdom, but simply because it is “US-made,” which reflects the lingering colonial mentality of the majority of Filipinos.
Look where this mentality has brought us. Where we once led the pack, we are now lagging behind our Southeast Asian neighbors such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and believe it or not, Vietnam, which, not so long ago, was the victim of US aggression.
Pathetic talaga! If only Filipinos were made aware of the fact most consumer goods that have American brands are manufactured in China, they’d most probably say “lang-hiya, bakit tayo nag-papaloko sa mga Kano palagi?”
President Rodrigo Duterte said that according to health experts, the best vaccine is “the one that’s available.”
“Huwag kayo mamili ng bakuna [Don’t choose your vaccine], they are all good,” he said.
Incidentally, Digong had himself vaccinated with the one made in China.