South China Sea ruling justifies military action vs China: Does the Philippines have the means? #CHexit

South China Sea

Was the “favourable” ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the South China Sea dispute a “victory” for Filipinos? Apologist of the administration of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III would like Filipinos to believe so. Of course, the objective there is to chalk this up as another “achievement” of the former administration.

The trouble with Filipinos is their habitually loose definition of what it means to achieve and to win. If the win or achievement being trumpeted is dubious, guess what, Filipinos lower the bar to get it counted. So over a prolonged period, Pinoys accumulated a hopelessly perverted and empty sense of what they and their country have achieved on the basis of self-defined standards plumbing ever lower depths. And this is the point to where we’ve come — the Philippines is basically a country that neither stands for nor has achieved anything of any consequence to the world.

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In the case of the South China Sea debacle, there is lots of cheering surrounding a piece of paper issued by The Hague. But subject this supposedly happy occasion to the So What? Test and one would be hard-pressed to come up with a compelling response. Perhaps Filipinos think that they can shove this piece of paper down a cannon and fire it at the Chinese military hardware floating all over the South China Sea. Well, I stand corrected then. I’ve always asserted that Philippine society is severely bankrupt of imagination but, in this case, I’ll need to make an exception!

Fact is, the writing’s been on the wall for some time. China’s probably invested billions in both the construction of those structures all over the South China Sea as well as in sustaining an astoundingly effective military deployment to the area. No fool would invest and commit that much to a venture they would only have to give up later to comply with a toothless ruling from the other side of the planet. In short (and as so many times it’s been asserted), China has no plans on pulling out of the zone any time soon nor erasing those nine dashes from their maps.

It is therefore interesting to observe just how adept Filipinos have become at spinning some semblance of “achievement” coming out of the PCA ruling in their favour. The “skill” comes with years of experience pulling rabbits out of hats when it comes to filling out their scorecard of “wins”.

If you step back to regard the real scheme of things, we will find that the most respected and most powerful countries on the planet earned their places at the top of the planetary food chain on the back of military power. If that confronting fact weren’t true, then we wouldn’t see aspiring global players like India and China spending mega-billions on the latest toys. Even those countries that presume to rule on matters to do with “international law” earned the ascendancy to do so by the sword. Indeed, if, in fact, that right to rule on “international law” was not ruled by a northwestern European kingdom, then we’d all likely been languishing under the shadow of Sharia Law, Nazism, or Stalinism today. Take your pick.

Much of the artefacts emerging from and being shared across the Net over this imagined Philippine “victory” now is propped up by a single conceptual pillar — that the rest of the global community will rally behind the ruling and put diplomatic (and maybe even economic) pressure on China to comply. Again, Filipinos have invested heaps of emotional capital on that flowery assumption. Unfortunately the reality is a bit starker. The fantasy of countries coalescing into a diplomatic bloc that could pressure the Chinese is a pipe dream at best. Economic pressure? Good luck with that. Even the US is held hostage to China’s gargantuan trade surplus with America. Indeed, Chinese economic power was ultimately a creation of Corporate America’s insatiable appetite for revenue and profit growth and the resulting orgy of outsourcing and offshoring that’s left much of the American industrial heartland a bleak rustbelt and its people hopelessly addicted to cheap imports.

Fantasising about a “victory” without any tangible spoils to show for it is an activity of a people that have lost focus on what is important: results. There is, of course, no problem with taking small steps. A poor country, after all, has no choice but to tread in baby-scaled strides. But it is also important that Filipinos learn to keep their eye on a long-term outcome at least to assure themselves that, even while they take those steps, they are pointed in the right direction.

Ultimately it is not about winning nebulous bases for propping up “national pride”. It is about securing access to real resources upon which the only real solution to the Philippines’ problems, economic growth, can be sustained. The Philippines is in no position to secure access to those resource by force, has nothing to bring to the table in any serious negotiation with China, and cannot afford to remain naive about the willingness of its “allies” to antagonise China over “principles” that only look good on paper.

It’s time Filipinos collectively work with their government to do some modern thinking about what to do next now that a mere milestone in the South China Sea drama has uneventfully passed.

What next?

Where are the results?

These are really the only two important guiding questions Filipinos need to keep in mind in charting a prosperous future for themselves.

[Photo courtesy Associated Press.]

7 Replies to “South China Sea ruling justifies military action vs China: Does the Philippines have the means? #CHexit”

  1. There are no good options; except to modernize the military equipment of the AFP. It is for defensive purposes, not for offensive purposes. Failure is not an option , in this situation…

    Who will enforce the PCA ruling ? China does not recognize the PCA ruling. The Scarborough Shoal is located, at the vulnerable strategic part of the Philippines…

    This part should be defended, by a strong Navy Force and a strong Air Force. A comprehensive defense strategy should be formulated. We negotiate, with China. But, we negotiate with strength.

    If we are weak, and go on the negotiating table…we will only go there, to pander for crumbs.

    We have to rely on ourselves, and not look for Uncle Sam or other nations. They do not work for us. They work only, if their interests are at stake.

    This can be a test on how Pres. Duterte will lead the Philippines. Will he be a: Hero? Villain? or a Fool?

    We will wait and see. Time will tell. We wait for the results…

    1. Military modernization is not the answer. No matter how modern our military ware is, it will still not be a match to China. U.S. with their considerable military strength won’t even dare to engage North Korea, how much more China. It’s either win by diplomacy or win by U.N. resolution since China is member. Unfortunately all super powers have veto powers and can ignore the resolution if it’s against them. The U.S., Russia and China are among the violators.

      1. It is one of the options…if another territory is grabbed…it will be a costly grab , for men and material…

        Just look at the history of the Finland and Soviet Union war . Finland is a small country. The Soviet Union, tried to invade it, from the order of Josef Stalin. The Soviets cost them a lot of men and material. Until, Josef Stalin, came to his senses; and both countries negotiated for peace…

      2. Diplomacy is all hot air when you don’t even have the proper equipment to show you mean business. You need the means to assert yourself first in order to be taken seriously and as of now the Philippines has none of that. No, Uncle Sam doesn’t count. You kicked him out decades ago.

  2. the Philippines is basically a country that neither stands for nor has achieved anything of any consequence to the world.

    OUCH! Well, at least there’s one thing the Philippines has achieved for which it stands out above the rest –> attaining bonafide banana republic status. Yeah, China must be crouching in fear with the thought of the Yellowtard kingdom unilaterally imposing a banana embargo preventing export of our much sought after Yellow fruit to the Chinese manufacturing heartland.

    Seriously, the Philippines has more to lose in a trade war with China. Just imagine Divisoria, Raon and Soler with zero stock for our local merchants to distribute across the country. So long to easy profit just reselling in our consumer-driven economic bubble. Meanwhile what is the Philippine market in China’s massive economic footprint? They can flick us like an annoying cockroach whenever they want.

    In fact our enterprising Northern neighbor may already be coming up with new business ideas while we celebrate in Chowking choking with Chinese food over our hard-fought “victory”. The Chinese could now be printing copies of the tribunal’s ruling on tons of toilet paper and distributing it to all their sailors and pilots. These are also sure to sell like hot cakes across their 1B citizens – earning enough profit to construct a naval base on yet another piece of rock in the contested waters.

    And guess whose grinning face is printed at the end of the toilet paper roll – yup what you’re thinking is exactly what I have in mind.

  3. it is ludicrous to even suggest that Military action on the part of the BANANA REPUBLIC of the Philippines against the Chinese is the way to go after the court in the The HAGUE’s ruling. China is laughing at the Philippines as they know the Philippines has no army,navy,air force that can conflict with China

    Nothing short of nuclear war will stop China, and the FAILIPPINES HAS NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

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