China militarisation of South China Sea is not a one-administration issue

Filipinos are currently lamenting China’s progressive annexation of their claimed territories in the South China Sea (SCS). But this lamentation is of a confused sort. One of the more controversial “issues” is around the foreign policy trajectory current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is taking his country — one that leans closer within the Chinese sphere of influence and further away from the US and Western European sphere. As such, Opposition “activists” are screeching about Duterte’s “allowing” this incursion into Philippine territory and spinning this as a betrayal of Philippine sovereignty.

The truth is, China has been beavering away at securing its presence in these territories for a long time. Considering even just the historical momentum at work, it is evident that nothing will stop China — no one Philippine administration will. Philippine “democracy” and its six-year cycle of disruption on governance makes a sustained Filipino effort to mount a strategic response to the Chinese threat next to impossible. That, plus a lack of a strong martial and technological tradition leaves the Philippines with few options.

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Without any military capability of consequence to, at least, effect tactical deterrence measures against Chinese forces in the SCS, the Philippines’ prospect of success through political and diplomatic initiatives lacks promise. The much ballyhooed ace of the Philippine government, the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague rebuking China’s claim to sole control over territories in the South China Seas, had already been played. China had simply continued to build. The question is, who is going to stop them by invoking that ruling? China had been, from the very start, categorical in its position on the matter: “China will never accept the absurd argument that the illegal conclusion of an unlawful arbitration court is legally binding”. It comes down to who will make them see otherwise.

Indeed, as much as Filipinos remind one another to refer to the zone as the “West Philippine Sea”, much of the world still refers to it as the South China Sea. That says something about how much the rest of the world is really prepared to antagonise China. Even regional naval heavyweight Australia has much at stake

China’s chief deterrent for [Australia, India, Japan and the United States, a group known as the quad] may be its economic might. Australia, for example, counts China as its No. 1 trade partner, with a 27 percent increase in exports in 2016 and 2017, official Australian data show. A naval drill is unlikely, Ho said.

“I think Canberra has too much at stake in terms of economic links with Beijing to take such a drastic measure,” [Ben Ho, senior analyst with the Military Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore] said. “After all China is Australia’s top trading partner, both in terms of imports and exports, and Canberra will not do anything drastic to damage its relationship.”

Ultimately no one country nor any one government within any country in the democratic world can really account for the China issue. Chinese goals and the monumental work mounted to make good on them transcends the scopes of influence of most of the players involved in South China Sea politics. This seems to be a collective shortcoming of the conflicting national interests of the camp that is facing China and the inherent fragmentation of governance over time inherent to democratic systems. China, on the other hand, is anything but any of these and is in a position to win territory over a war of attention spans it is inherently structured and constituted to excel in.

9 Replies to “China militarisation of South China Sea is not a one-administration issue”

  1. Filipinos will surely be a lot happier and content when the Chinese finally take over the country and give them all a good spanking. They’re hankering for a spanking. Duterte tried, but he just didn’t spank them hard enough.

    The sad fact is that weak countries are always bullied by strong countries. For all of recorded human history, it’s never been any different. The solution, of course, is to not be weak; the geography of this country actually makes The Philippines easy to defend. But Filipinos really just aren’t that bothered. They can breathe easy when they’re slaves again.

  2. This can only resolved, by joint efforts of those countries involved, the U.S. and other militarily strong countries. China is flexing its military muscle.

  3. In war, when a commander becomes so bereft of reason and perspective that he fails to understand the dependence of arms on Divine guidance, he no longer deserves victory.

  4. I’d remembered 6 years ago when a Chinese female newscaster made her an announcement live on TV that China owns the Philippines, and a day after that the Filipino people made an outrage to that one. And probably she was right about it & here’s the problem & the real reason on why she’d said that is unfortunately the Filipino people REALLY didn’t owned our beloved country [the Philippines] because we, the Filipino people are still divided by their different cultures, races, languages, religions, politics, etc., etc. Because unlike in China in which that country is a hegemony one, the Philippines is an archipelago country, 7,100 islands [not counted on the area around the disputed Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea, whatever you’ll gonna call it] and it is REALLY difficult to unite the people on this archipelago nation. So how will the Filipino people gonna own the Philippines if this country is already have a huge disadvantage on geography structure by being an archipelago country that easily been divided by among the Filipinos through their cultures, ethnic identities, languages, even on their religions & politics?! And how we will gonna OWN the Spratlys Islands in SCS/WPS even though we’d won the Arbitration Case against China & the Philippines is still a divided nation, and even worse, the Filipino people couldn’t love our country because we didn’t owned it but it is owned by a foreign country like China or even Spain [since a Spanish (or an Austrian/German?) King by the name of King Philip II who’d named the Philippines for the sake of his own]? And of course, Spratlys Is. are made of smaller rocks & islands and much smaller than the Philippines but it have the same geographic structures just like our country itself.

    Heneral Luna was right, the real enemy of the Filipino people is not the Americans, nor the Chinese, Spaniards or any foreigners out there but the Filipinos ourselves!!! This is a sad reality to our country, and I hope that we’re not gonna be like the former country of Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe were that country sparked a civil war in the 90s & then broke all of her former provinces of Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro & Macedonia to become an independent states as we know today. This is a wake up call to all of us!

  5. Not just one administration indeed, It was even known during the Marcos era. A friend reminded me that a certain US magazine I loved in the 80s, Asia Pacific Defense Forum, had an article about the Spratlys being a possible point of contentions between China and South East Asia. That’s how old the issue was. But nobody did anything about it; they were more concerned about grabbing money, land and votes. Hence, we’ve only ourselves to blame for letting China do as they please in the islands.

  6. I don’t know if we could trust Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque or not but surely those Yellowtards will go banana on this news recently that we will thank China for giving those artificial islands in the Spratlys if someday they’ll either gonna handed those islands to us and/or China had finally accepted the Arbitration Tribunal ruling, two years ago:

    Who knows what will happen but we will wait for that one in the near future but if that’s a possible scenario then what now after that? Will the diplomatic relationship between China & our country will become normalize? Will our country is finally become united & strong & no longer be called “Poor Man of Asia” if China will handed those artificial islands in the Spratlys that they’d built to ours? And will the Liberal Party gonna stop criticize President Duterte & change the image of their political party? :\

  7. Well as far as I can see, the Chinese are slowly taking over our tourist industry since our leaders decided we should open the flood gates. With multitudes of Chinese owned restaurants, hotels, etc, zooming up at an alarming rate, do we really think this will help our country. The Chinese have no intention of helping our beleaguered country with there new found income – it all goes back to China. So we’re stressing about what’s going on in the South Chine Sea, while handing them the reins to our biggest money making industry on home turf – that’s plain daft!

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