What’s the real agenda of China?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-01-22

With no thanks to our television networks and their appetite for crime, sex, and celebrity scandal stories — we now suffer from having most of our people belonging to the over-entertained and under-informed syndrome. There can be no better demonstration of our being under-informed than the fact that few Filipinos know that we’re in serious danger of losing a part of our territory, if not country, to China.

In other countries where the television networks are more responsible and prioritize their news according to the national impact of a development, the recent build-up and sabre rattling between China, Japan and India over interests in the South China Sea would have dominated the news programs for days. Strange that this doesn’t happen here, where we are practically in the frontline of a conflict over the South China Sea.

China has now issued a new map of its territory that includes some of ours and has also been acting more like the owners of all those claimed territories. We should be alarmed over how China has been behaving. China’s normal approach has been to use its economic clout in order to attain their objectives from other countries. China used its wealth to secure its mineral and oil supplies from African countries. The China behavior in the South China Sea veered away from that and we must wonder why.

Here are vital perspectives that will lead to an understanding of why China is unusually aggressive in the South China Sea: 

1. The Chinese fear the announced US shift of its military power to the Pacific area, to include the South China Sea. It’s only the US that China could fear and so it’s logical for China to position now against the US, at a time when the US is deemed as economically ailing, and wouldn’t opt to get involved in a big war. The South China Sea is a main artery for China’s needs and it’s to be expected that China will resist US domination of that vital area.

2. It’s a fact that China has a justified fear of not being able to supply its growth requirements with the minerals and energy required. The South China Sea is believed to have beneath it one of the biggest oil and gas deposits. Around the South China Sea are countries like the Philippines that are rich in ore and mineral resources.

3. US interest in the South China Sea, as perceived by China, is intended to control China’s tapping of the oil and gas in the disputed area, as well influence, if not control, those countries that can supply the ore and minerals that China’s economy will need. If you were China, the announced US pivot to the Pacific is nothing short of going for China’s jugular. You cannot blame China for thinking this way because that’s how World War II was provoked, when the US choked Japan’s oil supply.

4. China is paving the way to claim its leadership position in what has been called the China Century — this century. Even the National Intelligence Council, the highest US intelligence body, admitted in their 2025 Global Trends Report that China would overtake the US as the biggest economy and the most dominant world power. This projection was made before the financial meltdown in the US. It’s imperative for a China that will assume the role of a dominant world power to secure its boundaries and its economic requirements.

With these perspectives factored, we must now contemplate how China views the Philippines and would likely plan to deal with us. In this equation, the US is both a boon and bane because our historic, deep and close ties with them would naturally provoke Chinese animosity against our country. The best friend in the disputed region of my biggest enemy has to seen as a great enemy as well.

Unfortunately, we haven’t done much to redeem ourselves from being seen as a “lackey” of the US, which is how many countries see us. The VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) and the big US role in the Mindanao peace process are tell tale signs of their continued imposing influence.

This is not to suggest that we break off our ties with the US, as the Leftists have been suggesting, and shift to China. It’s too late for that. Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea left us no choice but to run to the US for protection. Our problem is just how far is the US willing to go. Sabre rattling is easy. Is the US willing to engage China in the South China Sea in a shooting war? Will the American people see it as a just war or as another quagmire like Vietnam?

With the enormous Chinese stakes on the line in this dispute, expect them to seek ways to also have an imposing influence in Philippine internal affairs, just like the US. That’s why it’s imperative that Filipinos must unite. It’s also providential that we have the right leader at this time — President Benigno S. Aquino III — because we know he’ll not sell us down the river.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” 

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