VIEW: No one can stop China in Spratlys but China or the power of world opinion

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - No one can stop China from claiming "indisputable sovereignty" over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)-except China itself or the authoritative power of world opinion.

Short of war, a war nobody wants or would wish, even the United States can only delay or impede the fulfillment of China's inordinate ambition to gain sovereign control of 3 million square kilometres of this great inland sea that is also Southeast Asia's maritime heartland.

This is the strategic context of China's assertive ambiguity in the West Philippine Sea.

Just now, Beijing can only bluster and intimidate, as it probes for weaknesses in its rival claimants.

But once China can translate its economic power into military capability credible enough to challenge that of the United States-when the "time is right" in China's terms-then the geopolitical configuration in the Asia-Pacific region will change radically.

And time and circumstances favour China. Analysts say China is likely to become the world's largest economy in a decade or so.

If they are right, the Philippines has only 10 short years to prepare for what is likely to become an interesting Asia-Pacific future.

Long-term security

Given the constraints under which it's working, the administration of President Benigno Aquino has so far done all that could possibly be done, in the short term, to defend our nation's interests in the West Philippine Sea.

But in this case it's not enough to deal with the immediate problem. Our nation's long-term security hangs in the balance.

And to ensure our safety, we must look at the root of our nation's security, which lies in our people-in everyone of us and nobody else.

If our country is to prevail in any challenge, if the Philippines is to become worthy of respect as a sovereign nation, we must first of all enable our people to become effective wealth creators.

We must make our country rich enough to enable us to acquire the means to defend our nation's interests, to protect our people's dignity and honour.

Nationhood infrastructure

To carry out the government's strategies, policies, plans and programmes to grow and develop the nation, we must strive urgently to create the four conditions necessary for growth and development.

Let us make no mistake, without these, the nation can hardly enforce its Constitution and its laws, and no development plan can succeed:

1. We must come to terms with ourselves. We must build among us the infrastructure of nationhood. We must be able to answer the basic question of who we are.

We must live the core values our forebears fought and died for: Dignity, honour, freedom, justice, self-determination, hard work, discipline, tolerance, mutual caring and compassion.

We must become a people at peace with themselves and with the world.

There is nothing our people cannot accomplish, if our identity and the goals we seek are articulated in terms of the core values taught us by our heroes and martyrs.

These core values define what is right or wrong for our people. They guide us, like our heroes and martyrs, to live only when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.

2. No matter what it takes, we must end our internal wars. Our radical insurgency is kept alive by our grievous inequality and the elemental injustice of mass poverty. And both are caused by corruption and misgovernment.

The same is true of our separatist conflict in Mindanao. There popular frustrations are worsened by rivalries over land and livelihood, and the situation is complicated by ethnic and religious enmities.

3. We must complete all the land and nonland reforms we still need to do. Not only will their completion make rebellion, separatism and mutiny irrelevant but will also accelerate our nation's growth. And, finally, it will unite our people.

4. We must transfer the power of the few over the state to the people as citizens. In the World Bank's view, we are a country where state policies and their implementation serve not the common good but those of special interests.

The capture of the state and its regulatory agencies by vested interest groups has made our economy the least competitive among comparable economies in East Asia.

In sum, we must put our house in order. We must level our popular playing field to grow and develop the nation-and so enable our people to surmount any challenge.

No luxury of time

As we create the four conditions necessary for growth and development, we must also carry out our development plans. Given the uncertainties building up in East Asia, we do not have the luxury of time.

It is the Chinese people's historic sense that is driving their country's rise. They count their recovery from generations of humiliation at the hands of the great powers as lasting 150 years starting from the initial European effort to open up China around 1800.

In 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed China had stood up. But China began to recover economically only after Deng Xiaoping's reforms (1978). In three and a half decades, China has become the world's second largest economy.

We, too, must tap into our people's sense of nationality-and do no less. By creating the four conditions necessary for growth and development that I cited above, and by simultaneously carrying out the government's development plans, we can change our country-we can modernise it without leaving anyone behind-during the next 10 years.

By that time, we will also have nurtured the inclusive institutions that will sustain our people's capacities for wealth creation.

No primrose paths

Let us not delude ourselves. There are no short cuts-no primrose paths-to growth and development. We must never give up even if our country's rise takes 150 years or more.

We have no choice. The alternative is too dire to contemplate.

We must work together to prevent the situation developing that reduces our country into a tributary, a vassal, a province of a great power.

Those who sacrificed and died for us and for generations yet to come will never forgive us if we fail to summon the courage and the will to take the radical steps toward the Filipino future: To deliberately put in place the four conditions necessary for growth and development without delay.

The writer is a former Philippine National Security Adviser

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Catholics organize to promote pope's climate change message

    NEW YORK (AP) — There will be prayer vigils and pilgrimages, policy briefings and seminars, and sermons in parishes from the U.S. to the Philippines. …

  • Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored
    Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Carroll Heath didn't have it easy growing up in the Great Depression. His father wasn't around, his mother was a patient in a mental hospital and he kept largely to himself. Soon after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army and wound up in the Philippines, where he's believed to have died sometime in 1942. …

  • APEC trade chiefs vow to speed up work in WTO

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday issued strong support to the World Trade Organization's efforts to boost global trade amid a flurry of regional free trade agreements. …

  • Negotiations on TPP in 'end-game', says US trade representative
    Negotiations on TPP in 'end-game', says US trade representative

    Negotiations to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone are in the "end-game", US Trade Representative Mike Froman said Sunday. Asked about a timetable, Froman said: "We agreed to conclude (the TPP talks) the moment that we have an agreement on an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard agreement." "The focus will now shift to the US House of Representatives when they come back from recess and we look forward to working with them to get it passed as soon as possible," he …

  • ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes
    ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes

    The Yolanda-inspired film “Taklub” has won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The advocacy film, which had a successful premiere last Tuesday under the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, is directed by 2009 Cannes best director Brillante Mendoza and top-billed by Nora Aunor. The award cited the film’s sensitive portrayal of individuals and communities in the Philippines fighting to continue living despite natural disasters exposing them to suffering and death. …

  • Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam
    Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam

    A 21-year-old orphan from Capiz topped the chemical engineering board examinations held this month. Remington Salaya, a cum laude graduate of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo, ranked first in the board examinations with a score of 83.30 percent. Out of 405 chemical engineering graduates who took the exam in mid-May, 239 passed. …

  • A sunset party for APEC delegates
    A sunset party for APEC delegates

    Greeted by the beat of Ati-atihan drummers, delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting enjoyed a welcome dinner and cultural presentation at sunset yesterday. Dubbed FuntaSea, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s Banyugan Beach was transformed into a fantasy island, complete with mermaids, fire dancers, and choreographed paraws (sailboat) representing the best of Boracay. With APEC meetings being held all over the Philippines, each presentation is conceptualized …

  • UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute
    UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s increased assertiveness has alarmed its smaller neighbors. In Manila, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed to China to respect various international agreements on freedom of navigation and aviation. Coloma’s call came in the wake of an incident Wednesday where Chinese naval forces warned a US …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options