China’s land grabbing

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Friday, February 14, 2014


IT IS widely believed that the Chinese, with their supreme military power and unquestionable economic might, are abusing their position as the leading East Asian power to grab much needed territory from its neighboring states – all of whom are smaller than China, and some of whom are considerably weaker.

As it stands, the People’s Republic of China has managed to provoke the ire of almost every nation with a coastline within both Southeast Asia and East Asia. It has border disputes with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines – and it considers Taiwan to be a part of China, refusing to recognize the nation’s independence.

It looks like a classic case of schoolyard bullying where the biggest kid on the playground extorts everyone for lunch money. The Chinese believe that everything the sun touches within the South China Sea belongs to them, including the entire western Philippine seaboard. Someone’s being greedy.

However the Chinese have something the other nations do not: the ability to provoke fear – if not of war, of economic sanctions. The vast majority of the world’s goods come from China. If a minor nation like the Philippines were to forcibly take territory that it considered as its own, the Chinese government could simply embargo that country and a large portion of its economic activity would grind to a halt. The reality of the matter is, countries like ours need trade with China. The Chinese don’t need trade with us as much as we need goods coming in from them.

Some of you might say “ask the Americans for help.” Oh, of course – “Big strong Uncle Sam will come and save us.” Psh. Remember the Scarborough Shoal? Well, we lost that to the Chinese in 2012. While the United States was trying to get both sides to come to an agreement, the Chinese turned the Scarborough Shoal into a restricted area and raised the red flag, while the United States just sat there and did nothing but send a message to China with some big words. While still a disputed territory, the Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan to the Chinese) is now being administered by the Chinese from Sansha, Hainan – a city located on a disputed island populated by hundreds of Chinese citizens. It seems to me that China has a bad habit of ignoring the territories of other nations.

So what am I saying here? We can either simply sit on our hands while the Chinese continue to grab land – or we can go and do something about it.

The Philippine Navy is in dire need of modernization. The boats they use date back to the Second World War, and quite frankly it’s depressing. I’m not saying that we should go to war with China, no – we’re not prepared for that. We’d be crushed like insects and everyone knows it. I’m saying that we should at least provide a better deterrent than one measly PT boat.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 14, 2014.

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