Duterte Seems Alarmingly Resigned to Beijing’s New Building in the South China Sea

Over the last couple of years it has been said several times that Asian nations can no longer consider the United States a reliable partner. Its military has been decimated by budget cuts, technical problems (think F-35) and politics. The Obama administration had thrown into doubt the protection of Taiwan and Japan should either or both go to war with China. Asian nations see this and they don’t want to take chances on dealing with a bi-polar United States that changes policy whenever and whichever direction the wind blows with every new administration.

So, simply put, President Duterte has confirmed and cemented the the continuous prediction:

You take a gamble on a shaky alliance with the United States, go to war and see what happens. Maybe you’ll be defended, maybe you won’t. Maybe you won’t be offered full protection of the U.S. forces.

or

You play it safe, abandon the old club and join the club, and guarantee yourself not to get crushed in 48 hours by the Asian juggernaut.

Because of this realization, the day is coming where an Asian bloc will form under a Chinese protectorate. The vacuum is already there and is starting to be filled.

For further information, see the following (handful of many) articles:

Japan needs to seek out regional allies, view U.S. as ‘second resort,’ says head of think tank

Duterte Aligns Philippines With China, Says U.S. ‘Has Lost’

Beijing strengthens police powers in South China Sea

New blocs emerging: China and Russia vs US and Japan

Is Vietnam tilting toward China?

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a joint press conference with Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a joint press conference with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. [SAKCHAI LALIT/AP]

‘What will I do? Declare a war against China? I can, but we’ll all lose our military and policemen tomorrow,’ President Duterte said this week.

In the mid-1990s Beijing reassured Manila that structures it was building atop Mischief Reef, near the Philippines in the South China Sea, were merely fishermen’s shelters. Today China has a militarized island at that “shelter,” complete with a runway and large anti-aircraft guns.

A similar progression could begin this year at the currently undeveloped Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012. For Beijing, an installation there would go a long way toward establishing effective control over the waterway, creating a strategic triangle in conjunction with other facilities it’s built in the sea in recent years.

On March 17 a Chinese official was quoted by a state-controlled paper as saying that preparatory work for environmental-monitoring stations would be built at several locations, including Huangyan Dao, the Chinese name for Scarborough Shoal. His comment was later deleted from the online version of the article. It was wasn’t clear if he misspoke or revealed something he shouldn’t have.

Asked yesterday (March 19) about the prospect of China building structures at the shoal, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte gave the equivalent of a diplomatic shrug.

“We cannot stop China from doing this thing,” he told reporters. “So what do you want me to do… declare war against China? I can, but we’ll all lose our military and policemen tomorrow.”

But not everyone in the Philippines seems so resigned to China’s steady encroachment in the area, and some see other steps that can be taken in between the extremes of either declaring war or giving in to Beijing completely. Yesterday Antonio Carpio, a senior associate justice in the nation’s supreme court, said that such a statement from Duterte “actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal.”

Carpio noted that under Philippine law the shoal is part of the nation’s territory, and suggested Duterte as president should avoid saying or doing anything that implies the Philippines is waiving sovereignty. He said the least Duterte could do is file a strong formal protest with Beijing against any Chinese building activity in the area.

 

…Since then Duterte’s administration has eagerly accepted large Chinese infrastructure investments, notably for Davao City, Duterte’s home town and power base, and the island it’s on, Mindanao. 

Full article: Duterte Seems Alarmingly Resigned to Beijing’s New Building in the South China Sea (Defense One)

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