china challenge

why indeed is communist china claiming ownership of panatag shoal (aka bajo de masinloc and scarborough shoal) in the west philippine sea when it is clearly within philippine territory?  says a chinese embassy spokesman:

“It is China that first discovered this island, gave it the name, incorporated it into its territory, and exercised jurisdiction over it…

“The Philippine territory is set by a series of international treaties, including the Treaty of Paris (1898), the Treaty of Washington (1900) and the Treaty with Great Britain (1930), none of which ever referred to Huangyan Island or included this island into its territory. Until 1997, the Philippine side has never disputed China’s jurisdiction of and development on Huangyan Island. On the other hand, the Philippines indicated on a number of occasions that Huangyan Island was beyond its territory.

“According to the international law, including United Nations Convention on theLaw of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Philippines’ claim of the jurisdiction rights and sovereignty rights over Huangyan Island with the arguments of ExclusiveEconomic Zone (EEZ) is groundless.

“UNCLOS allows coastal states to claim a 200-nautical-mile EEZ, but coastal states have no rights to infringe on the inherent territory and sovereignty of other countries. The Philippines asserts that Huangyan Island is closer to its territory, but in fact “geographical proximity” has long been dismissed by the international law and practice as the principle of the solution of territory ownership.”

the most taray rejoinder from our side (that i’ve found) comes, ironically enough, from the communist left, party chair jose maria sison himself, in an interview by renato reyes, posted on 

The UNCLOS is the strongest legal basis for the definition of the territorial sea and EEZ of the Philippine archipelago. Also, archaeological evidence shows that the islands, reefs and shoals at issue have been used by inhabitants of what is now the Philippines since prehistoric times. But the Philippine reactionary government muddles the issue and undermines its own position by making historical claims that date back only to a few decades ago when pseudo-admiral Cloma made formal claims to the Kalayaan group of islands.

Chinese historical claims since ancient times amount to an absurdity as this would be like Italy claiming as its sovereign possession all areas previously occupied by the Roman empire. The name China Sea was invented by European cartographers and should not lead anyone to think that the entire sea belongs to China. In the same vein, neither does the entire Indian Ocean belong to India.

the left, of course, is quick to distance itself from china — blatantly capitalist rather than communist, joma says — but at the same time, it would seem that joma is giving china the benefit of the doubt, the incursions are “alleged,” sabay suggest that the aquino admin is only hyping china as an imperialist aggressor to justify the further entrenchment of american military forces in the country.

what really intrigues me is the timing of the scarborough face-off, just when filipino and american military forces were gearing up for balikatan exercises in palawan and luzon, involving 4,500 U.S. troops.  if no such military exercises were in the offing, would china have protested so belligerently the philippine action vs the chinese fishermen, as though to say, don’t count us out?  if no such military exercises were in the offing, would the philippine government have been brave enough to accost the fishermen and risk the ire of china,  as though to say, we’ve got america behind us?

we’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, between a rock and hard place.  with economic policies that have kept us poor and undeveloped, dependent on foreign credit and foreign remittances and foreign goods, a basket case of a third world country that can’t stand on its own two feet, economically or militarily, it’s no wonder our sovereignty is always under challenge, our limits being tested, if not by the military presence of the U.S, then by chinese fishermen trespassing in, and chinese gunboats patrolling, our waters.

just our luck.  given our strategic location and supposedly-still-huge untapped natural wealth under the ground and the seas, rival powers america and china both want pieces, if not all, of us; they just have different ways of getting what they want.

the notion is that if/when push comes to shove, america will rise to the occasion and back us up against china, but in exchange for what more, i wonder.

unless, maybe, china gets to the aquino admin first.  quid pro quo: we back off but you approve this and/or that contract, or you get that pro-mining law passed, yikes!  whatever, sana the president stands tall.  but hey (at the risk of being facetious), baka naman all they want is an official apology for the luneta massacre, ano? — that should be easy, and relatively painless, um, maybe except for the president.

oops.  just saw this on the news: China and Russia launched today, sunday, joint naval exercises in the yellow sea that highlight warming ties between their militaries and growing cooperation in international affairs.  omg.  painit nang painit.  as if it weren’t hot enough.


Mag-rally kaya ang Pilipinong manginisda sa Scarborough shoal?  by Ellen Tordesillas
China stand-off to affect business? by Boo Chanco
Thorny sovereignty issue by Carol Pagaduan Araullo
Understanding the Philippine Stand-off with China by Steven Rood
Wikileaks cables: Arroyo scandals affected Spratlys, Scarborough
Aquino and international law by Harry Roque
South China Sea represents ‘a new Persian Gulf?’ by Chito Sta. Romana
Fighting Spirit Award by Indolent Indio