Asian Wisconzine Section/Heidi M. Pascual

Heidi Pascual

Right over Might

Amid the ongoing tension between China and the Philippines in regard to territorial sovereignty claims and maritime disputes, Filipinos in general believe that should war erupt in the South China Sea, our allies will help us defend our country. We are not alone in the belief that right will always be victorious against a mighty and superior foe.

I salute the present president of the Philippines, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., for standing up against China through his brilliant foreign-policy actions that have resulted in more countries supporting our nation’s stand. This is a 360-degree

turnaround from former President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of befriending China and disregarding the 2016 International Arbitral ruling that favored the Philippines.

What has China done that was completely and clearly anti-Filipino despite Duterte’s pro-China policy? Aaron Rabena correctly summarized China’s unfriendly actions in the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (10/16/20) article update:

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“(1) the restriction of Filipino fishing activities by the China Coast Guard; (2) the commission of illegal fishing activities (e.g., destruction of coral reefs and harvesting of endangered species) by Chinese fishers; (3) interceptions of Philippine supply vessels and patrol aircraft; and (4) the reclamation and militarization of maritime features in the Spratlys.”

These illegal actions by China have continued to this day, unfortunately. The change in foreign policy by Marcos Jr. that brought the Philippines closer to the United States and several western allies for sure angered China as it intensifies harassment of Philippine vessels, most notably the incident last August where the Chinese Coast Guard used water cannon to block a Philippine military supply vessel to Ayungin Shoal, and most recently, two Chinese Coast Guard vessels hit a Philippine Coast Guard ship and a contracted supply boat supposed to deliver supplies to army personnel manning BRM Sierra Madre in Ayungin. The Marcos government condemned China’s dangerous behavior and called the incident a violation of the Philippines’ sovereignty. More than 25 countries — including the United States, of course — have expressed support for the Philippines and condemned China’s unacceptable action. The U.S. issued a statement on the matter, warning China that the Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines will be activated in case China launches an armed attack against this country.

Indeed, China increasingly flexes its muscles and shows off its maritime military might, and when diplomatic protests are lodged, China’s foreign affairs spokesperson repeatedly blames the Philippines for instigating bold response from Chinese militia or Coast Guard ships which “guard” their claimed territory, even if such “territory” legally is part of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The Chinese ambassador to the Philippines was then called to come and meet with the Philippines’ undersecretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs; however, the Chinese ambassador was a no-show, a clear indication of lack of respect for the host country.

It’s extremely troubling and mind-boggling why China’s ambassador is still allowed to stay in the Philippines after all diplomatic protests lodged against Chinese maritime officials and “fishermen” met negative responses from China. I welcome President Bongbong Marcos’ latest bold move to  discontinue infrastructure projects to be funded by China in southern Philippines. It is proof that China’s days in the Philippines could be numbered. In addition, a few days ago, President Marcos met with his top military and defense officials and told the Armed Forces to “Be ready to defend the Philippines from emerging threats.”

Filipinos, in general, are ready to defend our country should war erupt. It is, however, sad to note that there are Filipinos and elected officials whose loyalty belongs to China and are followers of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s narrative about China. It is very disappointing to even see on T.V. the daughter of Duterte, Philippine Vice-President Sara Duterte Carpio, speaking in fluent Chinese. What does this tell us? That should Sara win the presidency in 2028, the Philippines could probably be China’s “province,” an unpleasant joke that former president Duterte publicly stated countrywide!

This very day, the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister is in Washington, D.C. to meet with his U.S. counterpart in regard to China’s irritating actions in South China Sea, including its blatant violation of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), in which China is a signatory. I am sure the Chinese official will reiterate and insist on China’s so-called historical claims of ownership of 90 percent of South China Sea (Nine dash line), disregarding the 2016 ruling of the International Court of Arbitration that favored the Philippines. China realizes that the United States supports our country and is ready to defend us in case China starts a war against our small country. Our EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperative Agreement) sites have increased, manned by American troops ready for combat. I think China is a bit worried that invading our shores (and possibly Taiwan together) will ignite involvement of the US military, another worthy and mighty opponent on the right side of the equation.