Briones: And now for something completely different

Briones: And now for something completely different

No doubt the People’s Republic of China has been flexing its muscles in the South China Sea, having woken up from two centuries of slumber in which its traditional role of dominance in this part of the world was usurped by the Imperial West.

In fact, China used to exact tribute from neighbors who acknowledged its superiority and precedence.

However, it didn’t mean it could walk over the people of East Asia and Southeast Asia. It launched several invasions against Japan, Vietnam and Myanmar that proved to be unsuccessful in the long run, which would explain why, in the end, the Chinese settled on the tributary system.

In a sinocentric world, trade became the prime objective, having already reached the limit of its expansionist goals by conquering surrounding areas that now constitute modern-day China.

Obviously, I am oversimplifying the region’s geopolitics. It’s hard to put into words more than a millennia of history.

But based on that history, there’s no reason for the people who live in the Philippine archipelago to be afraid of any imminent invasion, having never been invaded by China in all those years.

I find it ironic that the United States, which waged a brutal two-year campaign to subdue “Las Islas Filipinas” and rob some Filipinos of their independence (I say “some” because, let’s face it, not all wanted to break away from Mother Spain), would now take up the cudgels for Philippine sovereignty and rights.

And Filipinos have fallen for the American rhetoric hook, line and sinker.

By the way, I’m aware of recent incidents in which the Chinese Coast Guard or the Chinese Navy harassed local fishermen or authorities in the West Philippine Sea, which Malacañang considers part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Do I approve of the posturing? Heck, no.

But I have a feeling Beijing is just testing the water, and I believe we have already sent the message that it should be careful about not going too far.

There’s no need to escalate matters by getting the Americans involved in what is clearly between the Philippines and China.

I believe the Philippines, despite its meager defenses, can put up a good fight against a Chinese incursion. We’ll probably get beaten to a pulp in the process, but we have shown in the past that when push comes to shove, Filipinos shove with the best of them.

And I don’t mean to be naïve, but I sincerely believe an armed conflict is NOT foremost in China’s mind right now.

Therefore, the Philippines must, at all cost, avoid falling in the Thucydides Trap that the West, particularly the United States, thinks is inevitable. After all, it is their hegemony that is being threatened with the reemergence of an old power like China.

Filipinos must get rid of the colonial mentality and get out of the mindset that the West knows what is best for the world.

Now, wasn’t that much better than talking about the quixotic quest to become Singapore-like?


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