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Beijing’s agents of disinformation now operating in PH

12:03 AM May 16, 2016

THIS HAS reference to Salvador France’s letter titled “Indeed, US bases removal in 1992, a magnificent decision” (Opinion, 4/26/16).

I had the privilege of serving in Moscow on the eve of the demise of the Soviet Union. One notable event with this demise was the defection of many KGB agents to Boris Yeltsin. Some of these agents talked openly about their operations abroad. It turned out that one main feature of the communist system was to use agents of disinformation to undermine countries which had been selected as subjects of subversion. This system may now be—to use communist parlance—in “active measures” in the Philippines.

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Contrary to the claim of France, the Balikatan exercise does not include a fishing ban; rather, a safety zone is declared in the exercise area for the protection of our fishermen. The ban ends with the conclusion of each exercise. Thus, the ban covers only a limited area and is of limited duration.

On the other hand, China has taken over territory that belongs to us under international law as confirmed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China’s possession of our territory is in perpetuity, and the ban it has imposed on our fishermen is permanent. China’s ban embraces not only a limited area but the entire South China Sea as defined under the spurious nine-dash line.

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To get a fair comparison between these two issues, the Balikatan exercise will have to end thus: the United States seizes the territory it has used in the exercise, builds airfields and permanent facilities in the area, imposes a perpetual ban on our fishermen; and then, to top it all, informs us that the territory they had occupied belongs to them.

France’s equating the Balikatan exercise with the Chinese aggression in territory that belongs to us is too outlandish that not even the official spokespersons of Beijing will make such claim.

France concludes that the removal of the bases is vital in our pursuit of independence. This is a tendentious conclusion, given the concomitant outcome of  China’s intrusion into territory that belongs to us. As noted in an earlier article (“What’s magnificent about withdrawal of US bases?,” Opinion, 4/11/16), heretofore, the nearest Chinese military base is 900 kilometers away in Hainan Island, which puts our national territory outside the combat range of jet aircraft. This is no longer the case with the airfields in the artificial islands that China constructed barely 200 kilometers away. A worse outcome of the near presence of these Chinese bases is it facilitates China’s ability to subvert our country.

In another article (“PH foreign policy and ‘threat assessment,’” Opinion, 4/25/14), I pointed out that China is engaged in economic sabotage in our country, its firearms made by China North Industries Corp. underselling our locally Armscor made firearms by as much as 60 percent. No wonder, these cheap Chinese arms are weapons of choice of insurgents not only in the Philippines, but all over the globe. Now with these Chinese artificial islands only 200 km away, China can distribute these arms on an overnight trip by speedboat to our insurgents. Our long coastline and the limited resources of our Navy and coast guard will make it near-impossible for us to stop these arms supply runs.

I am confident that our countrymen are discerning enough to recognize articles that, undoubtedly, China is disseminating in our country through agents of disinformation who may be doing it on purpose or who may have been manipulated by the Chinese to do such things unwittingly. Hopefully, we will maintain our vigilance about the articles which will be continually spread in our country by Beijing’s agents.

—HERMENEGILDO C. CRUZ, retired ambassador, [email protected]

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TAGS: Balikatan, Beijing, China, letter, Military, opinion, US, US bases
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