Tell it to SunStar: Stop the finger-pointing

Tell it to SunStar: Does age really matter?
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By Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan national coordinator John Lazaro

We decry the finger-pointing between both the Chinese and Philippine governments as counterproductive amidst escalating incidents of aggressive behavior in disputed areas in the South China Sea.

We assert the need for the governments and maritime forces of the Philippines and China to cease provocative measures against each other, endangering the lives of citizens across countries, and instead engage in constructive dialogue to de-escalate tensions.

Orders from Beijing that put Filipinos at risk of injury or even death should not be tolerated; not least by the governments across the region such as ours, whose interest is in establishing a peaceful consensus on how to operate in these shared waters.

Any peaceful solution in the disputed area should involve the withdrawal of the standing order by the Chinese military to engage and capture non-Chinese vessels. It is through these kinds of orders that China puts millions in the crosshairs of conflict, such as Filipino fisherfolk and other civilians trying to make a living in the area.

However, we question the antagonism of the Philippine military in inflaming conflict with Chinese maritime forces, especially with its recent pivot to American reliance under the Marcos Jr. administration. With the Philippine government blatantly toeing the US line, why wouldn’t Beijing be threatened by seeing a garrison for American forces just across the sea?

In 2023, the Marcos administration expanded the number of Edca (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) bases leased to the United States to nine, while promoting military cooperation with US and its allies, through military exercises such as Balikatan and the upcoming establishment of Visiting Forces Agreements with countries such as Japan and New Zealand.

We renew our call for countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, and China to return to the negotiating table and engage in talks to establish rules of conduct and guarantee peace and neutrality in the area. Rather than goad an inter-imperialist conflict, we must be the first to pursue a genuine independent foreign policy and unite the region for a just and lasting peace.

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