Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tribunal ruling will test China as a responsible world leader

Im not a kill joy but I really expeccted us to win the case before the arbitral tribunal.China did not take part in the proceedings, therefore, what do we expect as a result? Any lawyer knows that courts would definitely rule in favor of the petitioner in such cases.

And even if China took part, the same ruling would be given since the case stemmed from the alleged violations China committed against the UNCLOS. China is a signatory of this international convention.

These rocks form part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, according to UNCLOS. The convention says the body of water from the baseline up to 200 nautical miles out is considered the breadth of territorial waters under the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

China does not recognize such rulings because it is not claiming the Spratlys based on law--it is using history and its alleged use of these seas since historic times. IN its statement today, China claims that they were using these seas since 2,000 years ago. Hence, China thinks that it owns the area.

Well, it is not just China which used these seas for navigation. Almost all peoples living in Southeast and East Asia have used these sea lanes for inter-country trading. So, using the Chinese "logic", everyone owns these seas and rocks and islets.

That is exactly why the international community agreed to craft or create an international convention. IN these modern times, disputes arise between and among states. Without such conventions, how would the world maintain the peace?

China must recognize that this ruling made by the UNCLOS is a test. It is a test of how China sees the world. It likewise shows the world how China would act in the event it assumes its leadership in the world stage.

Questions are being put forward right now---which is important to China: its international standing or its so-called historical claims? Would China become a militarist power or would it just maintain its current status as an economic superpower?

Every state in the world considers China as a world superpower. Its economy is bigger than the United States. Now, would it follow the US example and become the world's next top cop? Or, would it follow the Russian example?

I remember what Deng Xiaoping expressed when he was still alive--of how he fears the day when China becomes or decides to become a global imperialist. Xiaoping knows his history and had the foresight of China's ascension to the global stage. He knew that China would one day arise from its disappointing past and assume a bigger role in international affairs. The question which Deng failed to resolve was the question of what kind of leader would China assume by that time. I'm sure that Deng wanted nothing more than a different reputation for China.

The problem really is that China seems set on repeating the very mistakes which the US and Russia did in the past and it is believing in the dictum, " might is right."

By how China approaches this Spratlys problem would dictate what kind of leader it would assume in the future. The problem with China is that, compared with the United States whose assumption as a world superpower came without it asking for it, is that it does not represent anything.

Does China intend to chart a different course and assume the top spot in the world as a Socialist or rule the world as a traditional imperialist like how the US did in the previous past.

The only thing that hampers China from getting the respect of the world is this issue. This early, China is losing its bearings and is engaging the US in its own rules. The world believes that China is slowly developing as a superpower bully, and having this kind of reputation does not augur well for Asia's dragon.

The US is losing to China because the Asian country is besting the North American superpower in the economics front. The US economy remains in the doldrums while China's economy continues to surge ahead. China got rich without annexing any foreign territory, a stark contrast tas o how the US made its billions through imperialism.

The Spratlys issue is showing a China which the world fears--not a China that espouses Socialism. Like its Communist predecessor Russia, China is trying to assert itself as a military power instead of just maintaining its current status as the world's best businessman.

The problem with China assuming a militarist track is that, in its history, nowhere do we find a China successful in winning wars. Yes, its peoples engaged in a brutal centuries-long civil war but when it comes to wars against foreign enemies, China has repeatedly failed in so many fronts: its war against the British literally broke China into different pieces. Japan's annexation of China left it with deep historical scars.

Compared with the United States, China has not waged a war with anybody except puny Tibet. The last time the Chinese People's Liberation Army went out of China to fight a war was when it sided with North Korea in the fifties. It did, however, took part in the proxy war over Vietnam. Other than this, China has not really been as prolific as a warrior state unlike the US which has been at war with others, especially in the Middle East for more than half a century. The US armed forces is the best trained standing military force in the world today.

China must always remember the lessons of history. Chinese leaders, especially those young turks over there at the Politburo must always remember that thunder always strike twice. Yes, China has built a more technologically advanced war machine over time. Yet, its lack of war experience makes it vulnerable and

I disagree with Prof. Richard Heydarian that since we are weaker militarily against China and it is uncertain if the US will honor its commitment as stated in the US-RP Military pact and recently re-stated in EDCA, it is best for President Duterte to just maintain a magnanimous stance and assume a reconciliatory tone to re-open negotiations with China.

Likewise still, I abhor what this so-called "political analyst" Celso Cainglet says that we stand to lose out of this because everybody at ASEAN is cooperating with China and he believes that we must do so too. Malaysia, for example, is actively engaged with China, and other states, except Vietnam are maintaining good relations with the Asian giant.

These two do not realize that this ruling not just gave us the trump card when it comes to negotiations--it cloaked our claim with such a thick legal coat that it insulates us from getting flak from just about anybody.

For example, if we do issue a stronger statement urging China to respect the ruling, the world will give us a pass because we are reacting from a ruling issued by the international community.

Why fear China? China will not engage us in a military way, no. China will not use its military to fight over these rocks jutting out of the West Palawan sea. China is no fool. Its leaders know that the minute they flex their muscles over these rocks, this will give its traditional enemy, the US enough reason to cut China down.

China will be defeated in a naval war over the Spratlys. That's for sure. If China engages us in a war and drags the US and Japan with it, this will spell the beginning of the end of China. This is exactly what the US and its economic allies want--for China to take the false step and engage these Western powers in a naval war. Lacking battle experience, China would be defeated easily by a combined US-Japan force. This will be a repeat of what exactly happened to China in the 19th century when it engaged the British in a naval war over its mistaken belief that it was already capable of warring another country and winning. China got the brunt end of the bargain when it lost several of its cities to the British as war booties. It is not to the best interest of China if it presumes that it is already at par with other powers in terms of war capabilities. Yes, the next war is to be decided by how technologically advanced a state is. The wars in the last several decades have shown that, having the technological advantage does not assure one of victory. Again, let me reiterate what I wrote in previous posts that this is the era of the small wars.

Going back, what I'm saying is this:

1. we can be more blunt now and make a stronger assertion of our claims over these islands and this would not place us in a precarious position vis-a-vis China. The fact is--it is the moral duty of this administration to issue a strongly worded statement instead of a "pacifist" one because that would give us the respect we lost when we approached this issue like how sheep acts when it face a wolf. China does not have any trump card--we have.

2. we don't need to worry about China again using its military to further violate our rights in these group of islands. There is an observation being spread right now of how wrong we were when we resorted to arbitral ruling instead of just continuing with bilateral talks. Had we not filed that case before the tribunal, it would not have given us the advantage such a favorable ruling right now gives us. what we lack in military strength, we compensate with diplomacy or our skill of maneuvering or committing a strategic push for our interests.

China will not move in a way which will harm its own interests. This ruling is like a Damocles sword hanging over China's head. The fact is--this ruling is expected to be the long sought-after deterrent against China's plans of further expanding its interests over the Spratlys. Why? If China moves and further show its assertiveness through further exploration and reclamation, China would be attracting strong opposition from our political and economic allies.