Enough of belligerence toward China – Saturday, 29 April 2017
A news report claimed that regional delegates who were expecting the Philippine leadership in discussions on the South China Sea dispute were frustrated when President Duterte insisted China’s arbitration defeat would not be on the agenda, a senior diplomat said Friday.
It was also stated in the report that some unnamed delegates were preparing to bring up the Hague-based ruling as reference for discussions on a code of conduct in the disputed waters, said the unnamed envoy who is familiar with the talks, although the same report said that these delegates were “precluded” by Duterte’s statement Thursday that the ruling was “not an issue” in the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
It is fairly difficult to buy this report, considering that most of Asean member states leaders in the past summits and meetings, were not comfortable with the idea of criticizing China by name in a joint statement.
If there was frustration over Mr. Duterte rejecting to bring up the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, it would be some delegates who have been frustrated then when these communiques from Asean leaders now and more so now, since there is little hope the PCA ruling will be brought up during the summit being held in the Philippines.
Mr. Duterte made it clear that Asean can tackle the declaration of the code of conduct, but not the PCA ruling, reasoning that the issue is between China and the Philippines.
There is doubt that say, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and even Myanmar and Brunei, would be frustrated, given the fact that there appears to be no quarrel between China and these countries, besides there is now regional peace.
At most, it would be Vietnam that would want the PCA ruling brought up, along perhaps with some former Philippine ambassadors, since in the recent past, it was the Philippines, under then President Benigno Aquino and the Vietnam leader who were vocal in their criticisms of China.
Then too, why would these unnamed delegates have expected that Mr. Duterte would even bother to bring up the PCA ruling, knowing that nothing would be expected of it, and worse, there would be no Summit statement from Asean, just as there was no statement from the summits held in Cambodia and Laos.
Nor for that matter, was the same China-Philippine conflict over the disputed South China Sea during the confrontational Aquino and his foreign affairs officials, all of whom are very pro-American, insisting on multilateral participation and discussions over the conflict, all of which resulted in nothing,
So why would say, Vietnam and other Asean countries insist on Mr. Duterte bringing up the PCA, which concerns only the Philippines and China?
If this is the way they feel, then why didn’t any of these countries file the same case before the PCA in the Hague?
It’s their problem with China, yet they did not file a case before the PCA. Why expect the Philippines to put the ruling on the table then, especially when this is really between China and the Philippines, which now enjoys a healthy and friendly ties with China?
What would be the expected result if Mr. Duterte steered the PCA ruling during the Asean dialog? There certainly would not produce any statement reached by consensus, basically because it is not just the Philippines that will be vocal against the disputed waters in the South China Sea and its artificial islands.
The report quoted an unnamed diplomat as having said that “It now appears that we’re being lumped together with Cambodia and Laos in protecting Chinese interests (in Asean) at all costs,” the diplomat said.
What all costs? It’s not a question of protecting Chinese interests as the reason Mr. Duterte, and in past, Cambodia and Laos leaders of their summits that Chinese interests were being protected.
Mr. Duterte is also protecting the Philippine interests by allowing peace to reign.
In the term of Aquino as the Philippine president, he fought China, preferring to do the US bidding, including bringing up the case before the PCA.
What benefits were reaped from this Aquino-US stance, especially since trade with China was down, no infrastructure of note came about during the Aquino regime? How did Aquino’s Uncle Sam help out? Was it the US government establishing five major bases and bringing in its nuclear weapons and Aquino’s belief that America would fight our war with China? The US never came to the defense of the Philippines, all this time.
Look at what is happening in the Korean Peninsula today, where a major threat of a nuclear missile war completely eradicating the two Koreas and even the whole of Asean.
The American forces and their bases, are in the tens of thousands. Can North Korea be stopped with tough talk from America?
It will be South Korea that will suffer as well as Japan. What price confrontation with China will it be, for the Philippines, if the country’s leaders continue to be belligerent?