Glimpses

Between China and America

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We are in between worlds, established superpower America of the West and emerging superpower China of the East. It is a contrast territorially and ideologically. The contrast of sunrise and sunset had carried with it much conflict historically. When the West discovered the East, expansionism by conquest and/or trade was the order of the day. For several centuries, relationships were defined by violence and greed.

The West mastered expansion by conquest. Although it had its Renaissance and awed the world with its creativity and artistry, the West was primarily about the use of power to establish control. From within its boundaries, member states waged so many wars against each other that, including those between Christians and Muslims, there were more wars than years.

The East had its own version of violent relationships and encounters, among tribes and among member countries. That the great massive land of China had fallen to foreign control described a China weakened by intramurals that Western countries were quick to exploit. By historical time, it did not take that long before the Chinese rallied towards their own solidarity to expel their foreign masters. The history of England was much more pitiful—1,500 years of subjugation by different countries before their warring tribes learned to fight together.

Filipinos and Chinese are blood brothers as they are trading partners. This history of blood brotherhood and trading partnerships go a long way and is a feature of our pre-Hispanic times. It could very well be that China and the Philippines were once physically connected by land bridges. But the seas have not deterred Chinese and Filipino engagement. Both peoples have used the seas like highways and trading routes that it is not surprisingly for the Philippines and China to claim ownership of common waters and islands.

However, we are blood brothers with China not because we have visited each other that long that that often, but because Chinese have come here without us going to China. Blood brotherhood is territorial and limited to Filipinos and Chinese within the Philippines. It seems that Filipinos were seafarers but mostly intra-islands, our islands. There were more Chinese adventurers and traders who sailed farther from their native shores and reached our islands. It was more of a one-way street, from there to here.

With these little pieces of history, we may catch clues why China claims islands that are so far from their mainland and so much nearer to ours. It may be because they have taken routes from China to the Philippines that passed these same islands routinely. Since we did not travel to China in the same frequency as Chinese traveled to the Philippines, they could have regarded some contested islands today as theirs because of their historical use. It was not till very modern times when the world began to use the exclusive 200-mile from shore as standard to measure territorial boundaries.

Bullying, well, bullying does not need too much explanation. For one, there is size. Apparently, size is a major factor where bullying occurs. A much bigger size really makes one feel a bit superior, if not actually much more superior, over another who is smaller or much smaller. There are a few examples and many more of lesser visibility to the world but not to their neighbors. Take America, take Russia, take Iran. Size when matched with bigger populations tends to having an attitude of superiority.

When the natural conditions of bigger size and bigger population are joined by pressure, internal or external, bullying is almost a foregone conclusion – except that the bully country does not really believe that it is bullying. It acts from a sense of entitlement – meaning. “I’m bigger than you, I’m more than you, so I deserve more than you.” Unfortunate for the victim, and very dangerous, too.

As China must be feeling more entitled, from size, population and from history, the United States shares this feeling as well. Its history in the region is much shorter than what China shares with all Asian nations but it is very current, very fresh in the memory. After all, when China was still being beset by its own internal problems and exploited by everyone else because of these, America was king in Asia, ably supported by mother England. The United States gained entitlement when it won the last World War at a steep cost. Besides, the big bad atomic bomb set it apart as a nation that built it first – and used it first (and last so far) against an enemy.

Having become used to being boss, and gaining much from it in terms of its own economic growth, the United States is having difficulty accepting China’s great emergence as the next superpower. The 7th Fleet is an awesome force and Asia is its beat. It cannot invade China but it can rain nuclear missiles from the seas. And while figures on firepower shown parity between China and the United States, China has had little practice with warfare at this level compared to America. From WWII up to today, the United States has used modern warfare technology in a way that no other country has.

One thing nice about bullying is when two bullies face off. They are not used to having the kind of competition that can badly hurt them, or even destroy them. When this situation arises, bullies can be very sober, and somber. They growl but do not like to bite. They will circle each other and wait, looking for substantial advantage, waiting for allies to gain courage and enter the conflict, and most probably, look for a way out that mutually satisfies.

The Philippines may believe that it is a principal player in its own territorial dispute with China. But it is not in the league of giants, not competitive to bullies, and only a pawn in geopolitics. There is only one trait that can elevate it to the level of those much bigger, the only factor that equalizes difference in size – and that is its willingness, the willingness of its citizens, to do or die whatever the cost.

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  • epal_ako

    interesting.. but there is now the UNCLOS by which all nations must abide..

    • Kaizensigma

      your uncle sam refused to and is not even a signatory of UNCLOS.

      • carlin_2012

        Same as your China country,kaizensigma, thats where your cyberbullying starts.

    • GMGUERRERO

      Who is gonna enforce UNCLOS?

  • Marx Louis Wang

    porque malaki ka madali ka na lang mang-abuso? bakit ang north korea takot sila? dahil meron itong nuke? takot sila sa 28 yir old na anak na bunso ng dating diktador? bakit ito hindi nila magalaw? makaimbento sana tayo mas malakas pa sa kinatatakutan na nuke kundi nataranta ang mga bullies na yan! mapakinabangan na sana natin ang deuterium natin kundi nagsipagluhod sa atin ang mga bullies na yan. kaya natin ito!

  • Meow Ming

    “…

    Third, peoples of the Austronesian language family, more specifically
    the Malayo-Polynesian branch, were the first to navigate the South
    China Sea. Their original homelands were Southern China or Taiwan.
    Between 5000-2500 BC, they crossed the South China Sea to populate the
    Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. From Southeast Asia, they crossed
    the Pacific Ocean to populate Melanesia and Micronesia by 1200 BC,
    Polynesia by 1000 BC, Easter Island by 300 AD, Hawaii by 400 AD and New
    Zealand by 800 AD. They also crossed the Indian Ocean to populate
    Madagascar by 0-500 AD. The Indo-Pacific maritime space, including the
    South China Sea, was their historic water. Since the Austronesian
    peoples (ancestors of the Filipinos, Indonesians and Malaysians) were
    the first to navigate the South China Sea, they were the first to
    discover the islands in the area and to fish in the associated waters.
    Though they did not invent writing to record their discovery, it would
    be ludicrous to deny their discovery of the islands so close to the
    Philippines and Indonesia in light of the fact that they were able to
    discover the various islands in the vast Pacific Ocean. By the way, they
    have been displaced or reduced to aboriginal minority status in their
    original homelands.

    Fourth, the South China Sea has always been an international waterway
    since prehistory. Indian traders navigated that sea early in
    prehistory, introducing Indian philosophies to Southeast Asia, leading
    to the formation of many Indianised states on Islands Southeast Asia in
    ancient time. One of those states was Srivijaya, located on Indonesia in
    the 7th century and exercised prominent maritime activities in the
    South China Sea. During ancient time, the influence of Chinese
    civilization on Southeast Asia was limited to Vietnam whereas the
    influence of Indian civilization was dominant throughout Islands
    Southeast Asia, indicating Indian traders were very active in the South
    China Sea. Persian and Arab traders also navigated that sea, introducing
    Islam to Indonesia and the Philippines. The Arabs even settled in
    Guangzhou during the 7th century. A 7th-century Chinese monk, I-Tsing,
    went pilgrimage to India by embarking at Guangzhou on a Persian ship,
    stopped over at Srivijaya before continued onto India…”

    http://www,eurasiareview,com/24052012-refuting-chinas-ninedash-claim-oped/

    • tadasolo

      More than 10000 years ago people of Asia crossed the Bearing Straits which has land bridge and populated the American continents. So do all people who crossed the African continent and populated the whole world. The modem day political boundaries are set by the “realities” on the ground and there is not much the Philippines can do to confront a powerful China. I agree the Americans will come to the rescue when attacked but not on a contested territory

  • Jan

    what i know at this point of time china is employing strategy to legalize what it claims as 9 dash line in west philippine sea illegally because it has no historical and international legal law basis. a friend is a friend, it never took advantage of his friend through thick and thin. moreover it is not an opportunist………

  • tweakthor

    National Interest …. the Chinese know that it is to their national interest to get by any means all the shoals, reefs and islets in the South China Sea because of voluminous deposits of oil and gas.

    The Americans know that if they play their cards right, they can benefit from the multi-billion Chinese market … that is in their interest. Like the Chinese, the US can best protect its rights by maintaining a strong NAVY.

    Kaya in the end, kawawa tayo as the Americans and the Chinese know that they can benefit much greater from each other. Both their national interests dictate the compelling need to accommodate each other.

    All this talk about mutual defense with the Americans is a lot of hot air. Yes the Americans will defend the Philippines if its territory is attacked BUT will NOT do so if the territory is disputed territory among many states. They only recognize that which was defined in the Treaty of Paris.

  • sanjuan683

    When I was young I see China will become superpower and its happen now gradually. And I dream that US will be a lousy nation.

    • akoypinoi

      In your dreams!

  • Roy Rosales

    lets start updating the list of chinese here including those illegals swarming baclaran,divisoria,and major cities.,including their latest addresses.and when the time comes with a shooting war,deport them all

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Mister Montelibano, I am shocked by your History inventions.

    What do our friend Ambeth Ocampo is thinking about your discoveries.

    Negritos are from Ethiopia, do Filipinos are Africans ?

    Obviously the Han from Mongolia hunted the Austromelanesian out of China.

    In case you are interested by the Austromelanesian, in China they call them Li, it’s an ethnic oppressed minority. Some of them are still in Hainan with a similar dialect than Philippines minorities.
    Austromelanesian, aren’t Chinese’s at all, probably from around the Himalayas.
    There is more common ground with Madagascar than China. The Chinese started to trade with the Archipelago at Sung Dynasty times or late Tang.

    The Manobos and other Aborigines and Papua’s came from China,
    do Australia, Papua-New Guinea are also Chinese brothers ?

    About seas level, China Sea is effectively a recent sea, as well as the Chanel in between England and France or the North Sea who have about the same depth, more or less 50meters.
    The seas level where apparently 150 meters lower very long time ago.

    PS: Long time ago the Human specie was in danger of disappearance,
    only 2000 individuals apparently left, before to surge to where we are now,
    then every Human is from same group origin’s, or blood as you say.
    NB: I am just a neophyte with few basic knowledges.

    • GMGUERRERO

      Preservation of the specie. Much ado about nothing. Humans are destroying this planet. In relatively short time in terms of the universe, the human specie will disappear and planet earth will be a dead planet and will be a mere asteroid.

  • Garo Ungaro

    Its like one big family ASIA. The family properties where subdivided among its children…China the big brother of all who has a big share…appears seeing that their small brother the PH has a better assets position “natural resources” Black gold that was discovered lately…out of envy she wants to have a piece, if all of his small brothers assets, device a way of neutralizing the portion of his brother property by declaring a 9 dash zone…including the the area in question…Since China is the eldest among the family…she believed she has the rights…The only recourse by the smaller brother was to bring his sister to court…Which is the best recourse…but she refused to acknowledge the dispute in court…Now who has the high moral grounds on this dispute?. The IC has to adjudicate it? whether she will abide by the IC ruling or not that is the future issues…Meantime they are lockup and tried to settle the family property by force….?

    • AlexanderAmproz

      In fact, the Chinese Han are younger than the Austromelanesian,
      have a look to the Han invasions conquest history !

    • RN-EMT.PH

      china is not akin to us Filipinos… they are the bullies in school, like gang members pushing helpless individuals to the wall, holding their collars or necks just to get what they want. if you call that family, better check the dictionary first.

  • GMGUERRERO

    What about Israel? It was bullied by the whole Muslim world. It did have the U.S. on the sidelines, but still look at them now. The Palestinians and the Jews are both Semites. We have the U.S. on our side more involved than it was with Israel then.

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