China as bully

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Monday, June 16, 2014


HOW do you contend with a bully? For a nation, it is difficult to find ways to cope with a circumstance like what the Philippines is going through right now in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

The Philippines has filed a protest against China over the weekend, accusing the latter of undertaking a reclamation project in a disputed reef. This is said to be the fourth such complaint from us.

For the Philippine, China is a bully, using its size and power as a tool for harassment. China’s reclamation activities in McKeenan Reef in the Spratlys aggravate the Philippine’s diplomatic rift with that country.

The Chinese incursion into the South China Sea also affects the economic stability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which has the Philippines as member. It is tantamount to “using bullying tactics against other claimants” to different parts of the said area.

The Philippine noted that China seems to be intending “to turn the tiny outcrop into an island with an airstrip.” This information is challenge enough for the other claimant-nations.

Indeed, considering the size and economic and military strength of China, how else can we call its most recent activities but bullying?

On top of this, the Philippines announced a similar challenge over Chinese reclamation at Gaven and Cuateron reefs. China previously brushed aside such protests, saying that the outcrops are part of its territory. But all four reefs that are already occupied by Chinese forces are also claimed by the Philippines.

China claims the Spratly islands, along with nearly all of the South China Sea, which contains vital sea routes and is also believed to hold large mineral resources, as its territory.

The main point here, however, is that Asean member countries that includes--along with the Philippines--Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan--have “conflicting claims to parts or all of the same territory, which has led to tense confrontations in recent years.”

This was highlighted by Vietnam’s recent clash with China that featured the ships of the two countries ramming each other in the South China Sea.

Vietnam is protesting China’s act of bringing an oil rig to an area that it (Vietnam) claims as its own.

This situation calls for meetings and negotiations among the nations involved to settle the conflicting claims of the resources that abound in the area. And it is a matter that should not just be a concern of a single nation but of all those who
benefit from the God-given natural resources.

The attitude of China is essentially greed, which is contrary to the necessary human behavior of sharing what is important for our survival.

The Philippines asked a United Nation’s tribunal last March to declare China’s claim to most of the South China Sea as illegal. It is a request that is anchored on the belief that the area could not be claimed by only one nation. But China has refused to take part in the proceedings.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 17, 2014.

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