By Rigoberto Tiglao
One of President Duterte’s historic legacies has been, as he put it, “to separate the Philippines from the US.” That is a bit of understatement: in so many words (and curses), Duterte has declared that the Philippines under his leadership is ending its decades-long puppetry to the US, and it will no longer be the American surrogate in Asia in that superpower’s campaign against China, as his predecessor scandalously was.
Locsin’s puppetry to the US was most recently demonstrated last week when he issued a shamelessly pro-American statement supporting the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (Aukus) Enhanced Trilateral Security Partnership, and its first major move, the US’ sale of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, the first ever turnover of such highly secret high-tech weapons system to a foreign country.
That sale sent shock waves around the globe, not only in Asia but in the world. It was the equivalent of China taking in Cuba to its alliance with Russia, and selling it its own nuclear submarines, so it could patrol the Caribbean.
The US propulsion technology is one of the “crown jewels of the American military” because it allows submarines to be stealthy when submerged and helps evade sonar detection,” the Financial Times reported. Nothing can prevent Australia from reverse-engineering the technology.
Other than the US and the UK (which was given by the US only the reactor) at the height of the Cold War in 1958, only Russia, China, France and India have nuclear-powered submarines.
Nuclear submarines can stay at sea for 25 years (four months if submerged) which allows the US — and now Australia — to position its weapons systems near China without having to travel the thousands of miles to its home ports to refuel and restock supplies.
The US wanted Australia to board its tripartite alliance against China so much and as soon as possible that it betrayed its major ally in Europe, France.
To afford the US submarines, Australia, at American prodding, junked unilaterally the $37-billion contract it made with France in 2016 for France to supply it with diesel-powered submarines. “A stab in the back,” the French foreign minister described it.
The sale of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and its formal accession to the tripartite alliance is obviously the latest major US initiative to contain China’s rise as a superpower in Asia.
The first was the Philippines’ arbitration case against Beijing in 2013, which the US prodded and shepherded, so that an international body could rule that China has no valid claims in the South China Sea.
That was a debacle: it only provoked China to build massive artificial islands on its reefs at a staggering cost of $150 billion. As a result, China now has the most developed and biggest land area in the Spratlys, which can at a moment’s notice be transformed into military facilities.
In this latest US provocation, China would no doubt retaliate, as has always been its policy, the deep roots of which has been its national determination to prevent another “century of humiliation” for it when Western powers and Japan grabbed its territories.
Indonesia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region,” urging Australia to maintain its commitment to regional peace and stability.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned that the deal between the US and Australia could lead to a nuclear arms race in the region, Malaysia’s Daily Express newspaper reported last Saturday. “It will provoke other powers to take more aggressive action in this region, especially in the South China Sea,” the Malaysian leader warned.
That country’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad called the move an “escalated threat” to the region.
My guess is that China would retaliate by stationing its own submarines — perhaps the hunter-killer models — in the ports it built on its artificial islands, claiming that it has to defend itself against these Australian nuclear submarines.
That would trigger another episode of instability and tension in the South China Sea, after the five-year period of calm since the arbitration award was handed down, which most nations in the world have ignored for being useless anyway.
Yang Baoyun, a professor specializing in Asean studies at Thailand’s Thammasat University, pointed out that Australia has rich uranium resources. “That lays the foundation for the potential nuclear industry in the country,” he said. “If nuclear submarines are developed with the support of American and British technologies, it is possible that the country will also make progress in nuclear material processing technologies, leading to higher risk of nuclear proliferation.”
In sharp contrast to these views, our foreign secretary, in an unusually long statement, was practically Washington’s spokesman in the region.
He said: “Asean member states, singly and collectively, do not possess the military wherewithal to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia. There is an imbalance in the forces available to the Asean member states, with the main balancer more than half a world away. The enhancement of a near abroad ally’s [sic] ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilize it.” (Emphasis mine.)
Locsin’s word play fools only the uninformed and stupid.
He obviously sees the United States as Asia’s “main balancer” which is half a world away yet dare not name it as if that would fool Beijing. “Balance,” against what? China, obviously.
Duterte expresses concern over new western alliance, as he worried the trilateral pact could trigger a “nuclear arms race.” https://sovereignph.com/2021/09/28/duterte-raises-concern-over-new-western-alliance/
It is astonishing and revealing, yet hilarious, for our foreign secretary to support the trilateral alliance by pretending to be a military strategist.
He says: “Despite advances in military science, time and distance, and the concomitant stopping power of water, remain major constants in determining security capacity to respond appropriately to threats.
Proximity breeds brevity in response time, thereby enhancing an Asean near friend and ally’s military capacity to respond in timely and commensurate fashion to a threat to the region or a challenge to the status quo. This requires enhancing Australia’s ability, added to that of its main military ally, to achieve that calibration.”
In plain English, what Locsin is saying is that it’s good for the US to arm Australia, which he says is the “Asean near friend and ally,” since it is nearer to the “threat” — China — than the US.
These statements reveal that Locsin doesn’t even really know where Australia is. He should have a map in his office.
Canberra is 9,000 kilometers away from Beijing, while Washington is 6,000 km away. Since the Spratlys will likely be where the Aussies nuclear submarines will be needed, HMS Cairns, the base of the Australian navy, is 4,500 km away from it. US naval bases in South Korea and Japan are just 2,900 km away.
What proximity is Locsin talking about that would “breed brevity in repose time”? This “proximity” rubbish is the American propaganda justification for getting another nation, which after all has been its puppet in geopolitics, involved in its campaign against China, so it won’t appear as a hegemon putting down a rising superpower.
Australia is not part of Asia, it is far from Asia; it is in the Southern Hemisphere, with its seasons the reverse of Asia’s. It is a unique extension of Britain. As in the case of the US and UK, what the hell would its business be in our part of the world having its nuclear submarines or any other warships patrolling the South China?
Locsin, in effect, declared to the world really that China is the Philippines and Asean’ enemy and that Australia manned with nuclear submarines can hit the superpower faster than the US since it is nearer Asia. This is the undiluted US view.
I thought Duterte had made it quite clear that China is not an enemy but a friend, as are all Asean countries.
Fire this guy before he says the Australian submarines can use Subic Bay. He is as unfit to be foreign affairs secretary as Manny Pacquaio is as education secretary. He is as bad as his predecessor, del Rosario, who led the Aquino 3rd regime’s hostile stance against China, which would have been catastrophic to our country if Duterte had not reversed that US-prodded policy.
Isn’t Locsin aware of the fact that China so far has supplied us with 55 percent of the 65 million vaccines delivered to us, since what he calls Asean’s allies against China — the US and the UK — has hoarded their production of vaccines? Jeez.
Former senator Nikki Coseteng had more sense and knowledge about this Aukus action and the reality of US imperialism in our age. With this pandemic, the US sale of the nuclear submarines is the “last thing we need,” she said angrily. Duterte should replace Locsin with her, who would be in the same wavelength on geopolitics as him.
Check out her interview at