our china relations, our u.s. alliance

there’s the china that’s playing the cat to our mouse (the goliath to our david?) in the west philippine sea, aggressively claiming and taking control of territory that is ours by no stretch of the imagination, and, naturally, it’s nakakagalit that we’re obviously in no shape to push back.

and then there’s the china that’s our 3rd biggest trading partner (next to the u.s. and japan), and whose investments we continue to welcome and woo, and whose State Grid Industry Development Ltd. has a 40 % stake in our National Grid Corporation (4 china bigwigs on the board of directors, 7 of 10 with chinese names: read rafael alunan iii’s brief history and who’s who of PNC).  yes, think exports, jobs, electricity supply, sabay fret over national security.

and then there’s the china that’s homeland and/or once-homeland to millions of chinoys, some of them now among the wealthiest filipinos, and whose silence could mean anything: abstain, or no comment, so as not to offend either china or the philippines?  or kampi naman sa pinas pero loathe to speak against china at this point, hindi pa naman kailangan, di pa hinihingi ng panahon, malay natin, biglang tantanan na tayo ng tsina ngayong napipinto ang pagbabalik ng u.s. bases, version 2014, puwede na rin?

whatever, i agree with jose ma. montelibano who urges that government mount a serious info campaign on our problems with china.

It is not unusual for war to begin with a single shot. The American Civil War started with a single shot from a mortar. History also says that a Serbian assassin shot an Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and triggered World War I. It is not so much that shots were fired, but that they were fired when there was already tension between countries.

And there is tension now. I cannot speak of what is happening inside China but I can definitely speak about our own country. If the tension is not yet palpable, it is only because the Philippine government has deliberately held back from rousing public anger. The news of China’s bullying has been in the news but government has not pounced on the aggression of China to whip up an emotional storm among Filipinos. I can understand why our government chooses moderation, but the game is not up only to us and belongs more to the aggressor.

I do not want to be an alarmist, but I am alarmed. The state of unpreparedness, or naiveté, of the Filipino people will send them to absolute shock if a shot is fired, either by Filipino or Chinese soldiers. Panic is not the best stage from where we can mount our defense. Patriotism is better, and anger instead of fear.

It might be advisable if government begins to roll out an information campaign via tri-media. Social media has been ahead of the game, so far, and will naturally pick up what government will publicly share. The tone of social media will be much more belligerent than the sobriety that government will expectedly display, but that is par for the course. Without some amount of heat, it will be hard to get through both ignorance and apathy

…This early, too, it may be time to send a quiet message to Chinoys. … They control the wealth of the Philippines as gleaned from the latest list of the richest persons in the Philippines. As such, public attention and expectation will be focused on them and their actuation as conflict deepens due to China’s bullying. Loyalty is serious business, and becomes deadly so in times of war.

i get it that the prez’s strategy — invoking the rule of law and taking the dispute to the UN for arbitration, meanwhile refusing to be provoked into any action other than diplomatic — meets with general approval.  so, too, the enhanced presence of u.s. troops, in the hope that it would deter further chinese aggression around here, which the leftists, among others, dispute, of course, on grounds that enhanced u.s. military presence would more likely enhance us as target for enemy attack.

but i’m more concerned about this interval between now and that day when the ITLOS rules in our favor (being optimistic).  kailan pa yon.  meanwhile china seems bent on pushing ahead, testing our limits — jan 27 water-cannoning our fishermen away from scarborough, mar 9 blocking our vessels that were carrying supplies to our sierra madre outpost in ayungin — and all we do is protest vociferously sabay step back, step aside, give way.  kaya ba nating i-sustain ang ganyang strategy until ITLOS rules (whenever) without losing more than we seem to have lost already?

and now this via rodel rodis: What did Erap and GMA promise China?

…on March 17, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei revealed in a press conference in Beijing that two previous Philippine presidents had made an “unequivocal commitment to China ”that the Philippines would tow away the Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal. China demanded that Pres. Aquino “heed the promises” made by his predecessors otherwise, Hong Lei warned, the Philippines risks losing its “credibility”.

According to Hong Lei, the promises were made in 1999 by Pres. Joseph “Erap” Estrada and reiterated in 2003 by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). Estrada and Arroyo have yet to respond to this new Chinese allegation. Did they make such commitments to China? If so,why and what did they get in return?

Many observers doubt this new Chinese claim because the Ayungin Shoal did not attain any strategic value to China until after GMA entered into a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China in 2005-2008 allowing China the authority to explore the waters within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone boundaries of the Philippines around Palawan.

China’s exploration led to its discovery of the presence of large deposits of oil and natural gas in the area around the Recto Bank which is just 85 nautical miles from Palawan. The Ayungin Shoal is considered the “gateway” tothe Recto Bank and China did not express any interest in occupying it until after the JMSU was entered into.

According to a Newsbreak report in2008 (“Arroyo Gov’t Pleasing China sinceDay 1”), GMA “clinched the most number of bilateral agreements with China in the two countries’ 30-year relationship.” GMA signed 65 bilateral agreements with China, far surpassing the 8 agreements signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Could one of these agreements have included a promise to tow away the SierraMadre off Ayungin Shoal and turn over all the Spratly Islands to China?

In a special “Correspondents” documentary which was shown more than six years ago, Ricky Carangdang claimed that GMA sold the Spratlys to China.

so, has anyone asked erap and gma yet what’s true and what’s false?  never mind.  like rodis says, we can’t be held to these alleged secret promises, secret deals, in much the same way that china refused to be held to its june 2012 commitment to leave scarborough shoal.

China is not the party to talk about sticking to commitments and losing credibility for failure to do so. China should recall that in June of 2012, it made a commitment to withdraw its ships from the Scarborough Shoal if the Philippine Navy withdraws its ships as well, in a deal brokered by the US. When the Philippine ships left, China’s ships remained as China said it had never agreed in writing to leave.

rodis also takes on, calls out, rigoberto tiglao, once press secretary and spokesman of gma, whose more ‘nuanced’ approach to the china dispute now makes me wonder if he’s speaking pa rin for gma, or if he has just found his way back to the left via cenpeg.  full circle?

and now here’s a romualdez, philstar columnist babes, urging “pragmatism,” i.e., maintain cordial relations with china just like the u.s. is doing; as in, barak’s michelle is in beijing for a week of “educational and cultural exchanges.” o, ha.

pareho lang naman sila, these superpowertrippers.  gugulangan tayo at gugulangan, pagsasamantalahan at pagsasamantalahan, hangga’t nakakalusot.  magkaiba lang sila kung dumiskarte sa atin, pero di nagkakaiba ang pagtingin sa pilipinas: a weak state, but comely, and strategically located (america’s “gateway to china” since “benevolent assimilation” times), and incredibly rich in untapped gas, oil, and metal deposits, and therefore eminently desirable as ally, i mean, as pawn, i mean, as possession, and worth fighting over, if not divvying up.

paranoid ba.  maybe.  but we could seriously use a united front at this point in time.  the dispute is between the philippines and china, sampid lang ang amerika.  playing the china card, as the leftists and the tiglaos and the romualdezes and other anti-aquino camps are doing, is like forgiving china for that atrocious 9-dash line and all the troubles it has brought to our people out in the west philippine sea.  as if we needed the extra aggravation.  as if we didn’t have enough threats to sovereignty to deal with.

again, we could use a united front at this point in time.   we need to get on the same page against china’s belligerence in the west philippine sea.  okay lang to pray, hope, for the best, but we also need to  prepare nation for the worst.  just in case.


National security is the real issue by Elfren Cruz
Pragmatism: Key to our foreign relations by Babes Romualdez
Listen to Kung Fu Panda by Teddy Locsin Jr.


  1. ricelander

    An old friend of mine is working as a technician at PLDT. One time he said, do you know that the main controls of our equipment is in China? And that they could switch off our communication lines if they wish so? Apparently, old equipment were replaced by ones made by a giant Chinese technology company and to facilitate monitoring of the ongoing upgrades, certain switches are in the control of this company.

  2. So, in this context, where do you stand on the America Bases agreement?

    I agree with the need to be firm in deed as well as words, and think tough deeds may be forthcoming from China once the Philippines does its deed of filing its ITLOS brief. Perhaps China will take over that rusty boat outpost. Then the Philippines MUST respond some tangible way. Me, I’d nationalize the Chinese mines. They can do their mining in the water out there.

    But two more subtle points that I’d say could help the Philippine cause:

    1) Stop trivializing the Commander in Chief by calling him “prez”. It shows the Chinese that the people have no respect for their leader, and can be divided to fight amongst themselves.

    2) Stop describing the Philippine military as weak. China has weakness as well, operating 800 miles from base. Three undersea commandos working in the dark of night can sink a large ship. If we think we are weak, we are. If we think we can fight with ingenuity rather than TNT tonnage, we are strong.

    • *Stop trivializing the Commander in Chief by calling him “prez”.* speaking for the chinese now? i call him the prez out of respect for the office, a shortcut that’s to me less familar and common than “pnoy” or even “BS Aquino”. nor did i use “weak” for the military, but for the state. oh, and please stop with the imperial “stops”.

      • What, you are asking me to stop saying what is on my mind? That is you wish me to refrain from suggesting that the Philippines is stronger if her people support her people? That concept is a bad idea? That is, you are against free speech? That is, I am only allowed to say what you want me to say>

        I took the David and Goliath remark to mean the Philippines is inherently weak, but I agree that my reading was wrong, and it could mean the Philippines is defiant and can slay Goliath.

        I adhere to the principle that even the US appears to have abandoned, that in matters of war and foreign policy, political attacks of the President’s decisions are set aside in favor of total national support for the troops, which he leads. Attacking the Commander in Chief undermines the troops.

        I believe in free speech, and you can call Mr. Aquino whatever you wish. I only make the intellectual point.

  3. The thing about “pragmatism” is that Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia all did it, but look what happened: It emboldened China to be more aggressive towards them.

    The President’s policy is already nuanced. Sound alarm in the region. Strengthen alliance with the US. Build more alliances. Get neighbors to push China to agree on a binding code of conduct. I only hope Philippine leaders find the urgency to also hasten the modernization of the AFP.