Factor these when dealing with China
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-04-26
We need patriotism, not grandstanding, at this time. The usual grandstanders shouldn’t try to score points out of the current row with China over the Scarborough Shoal.

The President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) administration has done the best that our country could do in this row with China. P-Noy had the right foreign policy in mind — to stay in the middle of what is developing as a US versus China conflict in the South China Sea. However, Chinese intransigence and bullying forced P-Noy to gravitate closer to the US in order to have a counterfoil against the Chinese dragon.

How much risk is the US is willing to take in order to honor our mutual defense treaty? Two indicators, as follows, would tend to show that the US wouldn’t want to engage China at this time:

1. It’s an American presidential election year. Poised to exit from Afghanistan, as he promised to do so in 2008, US President Barrack Obama wouldn’t want to be seen entering an even more dangerous and costly conflict with China. American voters would freak out and junk him.

2. The US economy will be severely and negatively affected because China is one of America’s most important trading partners. It’s also the worst possible time to go to war with China. The US economy could easily crash once hostilities erupt because China owns the biggest stake in US debts.

We’re much better off thinking that we’re pretty much on our own in this present row with China. Yes, we don’t have the armed forces to fight China or repulse a forced acquisition of Scarborough Shoal. Yes, we cannot match the Chinese capacity for absorbing casualties. Yes, China is not without basis in claiming Scarborough Shoal. It may be debatable but it’s a basis just the same. 

It’s been said that in order to win a desperate fight, you should begin to think that you’re already dead. That would remove your fear and the many bad decisions that fear could push you to make. By admitting that we don’t even have the so-called Chinaman’s chance of winning a direct confrontation with China — barring an act of God like sending a mega earthquake and tsunami to incapacitate China — we become realistic in our approach and thinking.

Know first your opponent. Filipinos must understand the Chinese psyche if we are to negotiate the best terms possible with them. It would be a big mistake to think that China simply wants more territory. The Chinese objective is much bigger than that. It would be a big mistake to think that China is just after the marine resources in Scarborough Shoal. They have all the wealth to source those resources elsewhere and avoid an international incident.
The Chinese today are the products of the tumultuous events in China from 1900 all the way to end of the Mao era in the mid-1970s. Unlike us Filipinos, the Chinese remember the bitter periods of their history. Their early twentieth century national trauma still weighs heavily in the Chinese mind and emotion today. American imperialism is real, not a slogan, to the Chinese.

In the period following the disastrous June 1900 Boxer Rebellion, China underwent over fifty years of the most traumatic period in Chinese history. They suddenly lost their imperial rulers and were controlled and abused by foreign imperialists, which included the UK and the US. They underwent the Sun Yat Sen Revolution. Then, just as Nationalist and Communist forces were battling for the right to rule, the imperial Japanese armed forces conquered China. Despite all the horror stories that you might hear of Japanese atrocities here, the Chinese people underwent a more pitiful experience under the Japanese.

Chairman Mao defeated the Nationalists and drove them to Formosa (now Taiwan), where to this day they’re staying. Communist promise of equality didn’t result in a good life for the Chinese people. They got involved in the Korean War of the 1950s. Then Mao launched his bloody and destructive Cultural Revolution. The improvement in Chinese lives happened under the watch of Deng Xiaoping, when capitalism was allowed and state control was loosened.

Having the US behind us is both a boon and a bane when we’re dealing with China. It’s a boon because we need the backing of a superpower that can stand up to China. It’s a bane because to the Chinese mind, a pro-US Philippines is seen as a threat. They’ll look at us as pawns of the US, a country the Chinese think is out to grab the resources of the South China Sea and out to extend the American empire in Asia. No doubt, the US and China are headed for a confrontation between two bullies eyeing the same small neighborhood.

The Scarborough Shoal conflict now enables you to appreciate this Chair Wrecker’s warnings during the past five years about finding ourselves in the middle of a looming US-China conflict in the South China Sea. The only things that we can do now are to unite and to play it smart.

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must never unwatched go.”

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  Previous Columns:

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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