Tensions Will Continue in the Pacific Rim

By Erick San Juan

South-China-Sea-claimants-flags-mapWar rhetoric between the U.S. and China is finally starting to cool down. The title of an article by James Holbrooks (TheAntiMedia.org) posted at True Activist (Feb. 7) but is it really cooling down?

Holbrooks based the said situation when Secretary of Defense James Mattis suggested the hotly disputed issue of the South China Sea should be handled diplomatically rather than through warfare. Yes, a very comforting statement in the midst of tensions in the East and South China Sea.

Calling the defense secretary’s words a “mind-soothing pill” that “dispersed the clouds of war that many feared were gathering over the South China Sea,” the China Daily hinted at a warning in U.S.-China relations.

“Mattis has inspired optimism here that things may not be as bad as previously portrayed,” the state-controlled newspaper wrote.

Although in reality things are not as mind-soothing as it seems. As the article continues: “In fact, even as James Mattis was suggesting over the weekend that between the U.S. and China, the diplomatic road was the one to take on the issue of territorial sovereignty, he was also accusing the Asian superpower of using coercion to force its will upon neighboring countries.

“We have watched in the South China Sea as China has shredded the trust of nations in the region,” Mattis said at the conference in Tokyo, “apparently trying to have veto authority over security and economic conditions of neighboring states.”

Providing further evidence that tensions are invariably rising between China and the United States — despite what government officials on both sides might happen to say at a given time — Fox News reported Monday that three Chinese warships have just sailed into the East China Sea.

It would be difficult to argue the timing is coincidental, as just two days before, the U.S. solidified its security commitments to ally Japan. And those commitments essentially back up the claim that Japan — not China — has a sovereign claim to the contested Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

In effect, it’s the same fundamental disagreement over two different bodies of water — both of which are in one region. And it’s a region neither the United States nor China appears willing to cede control over.”

That is the crucial point of finding ways to really avoid an impending war between the US and China – the control over contested territories in the region. In both cases – the East and South China Sea, the nations involved are both allies of the US, namely Japan and the Philippines.

The war rhetoric may cool down for a while but the tensions will continue. Even our own President Rodrigo Duterte said several times that the moment will come, in his term, that our country and China will sit down and will discuss the arbitration body’s ruling that favored our country. Whether China will like it or not, the said ruling from The Hague should be honored to give way to a lasting peace in the region and not just a piecemeal.

It is quite obvious that it is not only China’s needs that has to be addressed when it comes to natural resources which is in abundance in the contested area in the South China Sea by fortifying the reclaimed areas militarily by China. There is no way for our country to have the chance of extracting oil, gas and other minerals that will also supply our growing needs and be used for our development.

That is the gist of the article by Gregory Poling – Prepare for A Stormy 2017 in the South China Sea – The number of Chinese naval, coast guard, and paramilitary vessels in the area will continue to grow as facilities at the three large artificial islands allow Chinese assets to consistently patrol the southern reaches of the nine-dash line as never before. China also continues to construct sophisticated radar and signals intelligence capabilities, bolstering its ability to monitor and intercept vessels anywhere in the area, and advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile point defenses to protect these new power projection capabilities.

The desire to see Chinese diplomatic softening as a sign of a new status quo is understandable, and it is important that the door be left open for Beijing to deescalate. But China’s recent behavior should be seen as the best indicator of its future intentions. Beijing has accomplished its short-term goal of avoiding widespread censure after the July ruling. But it made no effort to clarify its claims or slowdown military construction, which would have suggested a more long-term commitment to peacefully resolve disputes. It is therefore only reasonable to assume that China continues to seek dominance throughout the nine-dash line, by coercion when necessary. Unlike the Philippines and Malaysia, other countries with a stake in the South China Sea recognize this and are preparing for heightened tensions as China makes use of its new facilities. The incoming U.S. administration will need to do the same, because the next crisis is likely just a matter of time.”

We should be wary of the pressure for President Rody Duterte to implement a revolutionary government as per instigation of a self proclaimed local CIA laying the predicate. He thought he may get what he wish for at our expense.


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