The day is coming

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By Andy H. Hagad

Bottom Line

Monday, March 31, 2014


SATURDAY afternoon, I browsed the internet website of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and learned that just hours before, Chinese Coastguard vessels blocked a Philippine civilian ship that was ferrying supplies to soldiers in the Ayungin Shoal.  With the blockade came a stern warning from the Chinese Foreign Ministry that the Philippines was provoking China and that its government will do whatever is necessary to protect its property rights over the Shoal.

What property rights?  China is insisting that its claim of ownership over the Ayungin Shoal stems from its “nine-dash line,” from which it unilaterally claimed historic title over the China Sea.

On the part of the Philippines, while insisting that the Ayungin Shoal is part of its territory, while it based its claim on the territorial demarcation made by the signatories to the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty (Unclos), our foreign ministry opted for U.N. arbitration.  In other words, it passed on the decision to an international body under a treaty which both the Philippines and China were signatories.  Members of Unclos are supposed to do that when issues like the Chinese and Filipino territorial claims clash.

When it refused to submit itself to arbitration, the Chinese government maintained that “China’s position has a solid basis in international law.” If its claim over the Ayungin Shoal indeed has a solid base in international law, why does China refuse to submit to arbitration?  Is it so afraid of a decision in favor of the Philippines?  So it resorts instead to bullying us?

It’s easy to understand China’s desperation to annex the whole of the China Sea.  With a population  of more than a billion people and an industry that is insatiably hungry for  resources. China needs to claim more and more territory in order to survive.
          
On the other hand, China does not have to act like a bully in order to get countries like ours to help it out. China should learn from the embargo the developed countries are imposing upon Russia because of its forceful annexation of the Ukraine. 

China’s neighbors can be pushed only so far.  On the other hand, the threat of an international flashpoint boiling over the Southeast Asian borders because of the high-handed manner with which the Chinese are pushing its neighbors, including the Philippines, is already worrying the developed nations. It is not farfetched to assume that very soon the United States, Great Britain, Australia and a host of other developed nations will be forced to do a “Putin” on China.  All that is preventing them from doing so now is the huge investment they have inside Mainland China, and the equally-huge investment the Chinese have in these rich countries.  But the day is coming when even that will not prevent them from taking punitive measures against a world bully.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 31, 2014.

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