China, Marcos, and Robredo (2)
The next president of our country will be either Leni Robredo or Ferdinand Marcos Jr., from all indications. One of the most crucial issues that voters must carefully consider in deciding between the two, is their highly opposite positions on how to deal with our new invader, China.
China has used its military might to dismember a huge part of territory where the Philippines has sovereign rights. China has illegitimately annexed 500,000 square kilometers of maritime waters over which international law grants our country exclusive rights to fish, to exploit marine resources, and to explore gas, oil, and minerals.
Marcos Jr. has declared that he will sit down with China in one-on-one bilateral talks. He agrees to the condition that when we talk to China, we will not invoke/involve our following three aces: (1) our international arbitration victory; (2) our mutual defense treaty with the United States, and; (3) our natural allies among the other countries similarly affected by China’s greedy claim over the South China Sea.
In contrast, Robredo will use our aces and engage China in multilateral negotiations. Critics argue that if we don’t agree to bilateral talks with China, the only other option is to go to war. They’re gravely mistaken. Multilateral campaigns can take the form of economic, political, public relations, and a variety of other nonmilitary crusades. If China does not agree to multilateral negotiations, we can still go on multilateral campaigns without it, just as we did in the arbitration case. Going back to bilateral talks with a deceitful invader will not achieve anything as explained below.
Marcos Jr. should know that before we resorted to arbitration, we repeatedly engaged in bilateral talks with China for 20 long years. China played along and it even agreed to abide by “international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” But while its mouth was uttering “peaceful” diplomacy during bilateral talks, its hands and feet were engaged in unilateral, undiplomatic, and hostile actions: (1) it built multiple military installations in our reefs, atolls, and shoals; (2) it forcibly expelled our fishermen from the Scarborough shoals; (3) it engages in hostile actions against our military, and; (4) it has prevented our country from carrying out long-standing oil and gas development projects.
Our diplomats describe our invader’s two-faced behavior as follows: “China’s ‘salami-slicing’ strategy: that is, taking little steps over time, none of which individually is enough to provoke a crisis. Chinese military officials themselves have referred to this as its ‘cabbage’ strategy: peeling one layer off at a time. When these small steps are taken together, however, they reflect China’s efforts to slowly consolidate de facto control throughout the South China Sea.”
With bilateral talks proving futile, our country was forced to resort to arbitration, and which we won. Yet, Marcos Jr. wants us to go back to the same strategy of talking over siopao, siomai, and buchi, but which has proven disastrous to our country and beneficial only to our scheming lauriat host. Marcos Jr. virtually wants our country to go on bended knees, beg China to have mercy on our poor and weak nation, and agree to negotiate again under conditions that guarantee utter failure for our country.
Marcos Jr.’s weak stance does not remind us of the nationalistic foreign policy championed by his father during his strongman rule. Marcos Jr. instead reminds us of earlier periods in our history when our country was invaded by Spain, the United States, and Japan, and we had leaders who submissively collaborated with the invaders.
Marcos Jr. does not remind us of his father. Marcos the father wanted to expand our territory by asserting our claim over Sabah. In total contrast, Marcos the son’s submissiveness to China would lead to a huge reduction of our maritime territory and lend legitimacy to China’s annexation of our resource-rich waters.
Our countrymen who are hoping that Marcos Jr. would be his father’s son, are in for a heartbreaking disappointment. As shown by his servile stance toward China, Marcos Jr. is not his father’s son.
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