China: from reclusive to cunningly dominant and aggressive

China: from reclusive to cunningly dominant and aggressive

By Apolinario Villalobos

When the Philippines rejected the move for the extension of the U.S. military base in the Philippines, China saw its chance to stealthily proceed with her claim of a vast area of the West Philippine Sea. The Big American Brother, grossly hated by militant Filipinos has been booted out of the Philippine soil, making the country, practically vulnerable in the face of threats from inside and out.

Still losing no hope, the Americans thought of using the yearly joint military exercises between the Philippines and their “visiting” US military forces, a move which, however, did not deter China from pursuing her massive reclamation projects in the disputed West Philippine Sea. In no time, the world has witnessed the “birth” of an island, complete with an airstrip and high-tech military structures, although, what China kept on insisting was that they were for marine research and rescue purposes. She even had the temerity of accusing, instead, the Philippines, as the one building structures on Kalayaan Island, where can be found a “village” of huts and unpaved short airstrip, and as for the “military structure”, it is actually, a hardly- floating, corroded and barnacle-covered ship.

Lately, the Americans discovered the presence of a Chinese naval ship in the waters of Alaska. All that the Americans did was throw a question into the air, as to what such ship was doing in their territory. They never ever thought that China might have been conducting surveys on how to tow into place a floating island that she is very much capable of building, and which no country can dispute, for as long as it is outside their territory. A floating island may just be huge barges with the area of several football fields overlaid with soil and planted to grass and shrubs. The Chinese have been successful in building an island in the disputed West Philippine Sea, and they proved that no nation has been courageous enough to stop them, not even the United Nations.  So, why not build more in other oceans? Such is how China conceives what a modern-day expansionism should be!

Building an island is no different from reclaiming fringing coastal areas that would eventually extend the territory of a country. Many countries are doing this. Coastal reclamation is a discreet extension that a nation can do to expand its territory. Expansion may accommodate an airport or provide more area for an existing wharf or conglomerate of business districts. Practically, many countries are doing this, which would eventually change maritime maps, and the face of the earth.

Manila reclaimed a big portion of the Manila Bay which is now being developed into a “Dream City”.  But before that, and during the time of Marcos, a big portion of the bay has been reclaimed to accommodate the whims of Imelda – the Hotel Sofitel (formerly, Philippine Plaza Hotel), Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Film Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines and many other structures to support the country’s tourism industry. But China has gone further when she has embarked into a bold maritime colonization, as she squint her eyes to survey the vast bodies of oceans for her taking!

On economy, China has flooded the world with her cheap products churned out by factories that are alive with cheap labor. This phenomenon has practically devastated the local production of third world countries which could not stand against the almost give-away prices of China products. She has also been lenient in granting loans to allied countries which eventually, she now has a fatal economic stranglehold. She even spearheaded the founding of a bank akin to the UN-supported international banks that extend loans to member countries. Include here the standing loans that tied even powerful countries to this once reclusive country behind the Bamboo Curtain.  The wise moves of China virtually made her in control of the whole world!

Today, China is feigning a downhill trend of her economy, which of course, pulled down along, countries that have become dependent on her. This phenomenon includes the Philippines that now suffer from the weakening of her peso.

China is not a fool to reveal “how much” she is really worth. No nation ever knows the volume of her gold bullions and total reserves. What China may be showing the world, and which she can afford to devalue could be just an insignificant portion of her wealth, which may still be comparably even better than any powerful nation. China knows that the longer she maintains the downhill economic trend, the more harm that it can do to the world, and the better for her to tighten her stranglehold.

Meanwhile, China knows that not even the United Nations can force her to dismantle what had been constructed in the Spratleys. If the UN or the United States, for that matter, with her “Manifest Destiny”, had been contemplating on this decision for the sake of the rest of nations that use the disputed maritime highway, they should have demanded for the stoppage of reclamations long time ago, as they were not discreetly carried on, anyway. The goings on were not kept from the world’s scrutiny. The progress has been monitored via the internet, and which even elicited blogs of anticipation and wonderment from different parts of the world. To save face, the United States has been maintaining a stance, as if ready to strike, but for those in the know, it is more like of a shadow boxing, than one that can land a painful punch.

China cunningly employed a little sacrifice in the beginning, when she offered cheap labor to ensnare the world manufacturers into her fold, then she made the world economically dependent on her by being lax on her loans and flooding the world with cheap basic commodities, peddled influence to break the cohesiveness of Southeast Asian nations that now cannot stand as one against her on the crucial issue of the West Philippine Sea which she is considering as launching ground for her other ventures in other parts of the world. And, finally,

manipulated the world economic trend by devaluing her currency.

So what else can China do? Perhaps, show more vintage world maps of islands with Chinese names! China might even show a map of California with Chinese name!

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May Pag-asa pa Kayang Makabawi ang Pilipinas sa West Philippine Sea?

May Pag-asa Pa Kayang Makabawi
ang Pilipinas sa West Philippine Sea?
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Masakit sabihing parang wala nang pag-asang magkaroon pa ng katuturan ang mga paghihirap ng Pilipinas sa pagsampa ng mga kaso sa international court laban sa Tsina tungkol sa usapin sa West Philippine Sea. Hayagang sinabi ng Tsina na hindi nila rerespetuhin ano man ang kalalabasan ng imbestigasyon. Ibig sabihin, hindi nila pinaniniwalaan ang poder ng korte.

Ang ASEAN naman na inaasahang magbubuklod laban sa Tsina ay halatang wala ring magawa bilang isang organisasyon. Ang Amerika na halos panikluhuran ng administrasyon upang masandalan sa harap ng banta ng Tsina, ay pinaiigting ang joint exercises at ng sinasabing kasunduan sa pagkakaroon ng animo ay pansamantalang “kampo” at mga daungan sa Pilipinas, mga bagay na hinahadlangan naman ng iba’t ibang makabayang grupo. Sa isang banda ay tama ang mga grupong ito dahil parang ang gusto lang ng Amerika sa Pilipinas ay gamitin nila itong harang sa anumang hindi kanais-nais na kilos ng Tsina sa mga susunod na panahon. Kaya, magkabombahan man, Pilipinas ang unang tatamaan!

Subali’t habang nagpapakita ng pakikipagtulungan ang Amerika sa Pilipinas, pinapalakas naman nito ang ugnayan sa mga Tsino. Ibig sabihin, parang pinaglalaruan lang ng Amerika ang Pilipinas. Malaki daw ang utang ng Amerika sa Tsina.

Nagkaroon kamakaylan lamang ng isang exhibit ng old maps na nagpapakita na noon pa mang unang panahon, ay talagang wala namang ginawang pag-aangkin ang Tsina sa kahit na anong bahagi ng mga karagatan sa paligid ng Pilipinas. Ang mga Tsino noon ay “dumadayo” lamang sa mga isla ng Pilipinas upang makipagkalakalan, hanggang sa magkaroon sila ng sariling distrito sa Maynila na tinawag na “parian” noong panahon ng Kastila, na ngayon ay ang maunlad na Chinatown sa Manila. Sa exhibition ng mga lumang mapa, wala ni isa sa mga ito ang maski may kapirasong pagtukoy ng pag-angkin ng anumang bahura ng Pilipinas, lalo na sa pinag-aagawang West Philippine Sea.

Ang bagong henerasyon ng mga lider ng Tsina ang malinaw na may pakana sa pangangamkam ng mga bahura sa bahagi ng kanlurang karagatan ng Pilipinas, kaya pati ang mga karatig- bansa ay nadamay na rin, dahil pati ang dati na nilang kinikilalang mga bahura ay inaangkin na rin ng Tsina.

Sa mga bansa na may kinalaman sa problemang angkinan, bukod tanging Pilipinas ang mukhang kawawa. Ang nag-iisang barkong kinulapulan na ng kalawang at talaba, na ginawang headquarters ng mga bantay-dagat ay nagmumukhang yagit kung ihambing sa mga dambuhalang barko ng Tsina, at maski ng Vietnam. Maaaring kung hindi pa nabahura ay hindi pa ginawang headquarters at malamang naiwang nakatiwangwang ang bahurang inaangkin ng Pilipinas. Malamang pa rin na, natayuan na rin ng headquarter ng Tsina tulad ng ginawa nila sa ibang bahura. Ngayon, may isa pang bahura silang pinatatayuan din mga estruktura, at pasok na pasok din ito sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas. Sa kabila nito, walang magawa ang Pilipinas kundi manood!

Paano pang matatanggal ang mga estruktura ng Tsina sa mga bahurang pinag-aagawan, kung yong iba ay kung ilang dekada nang nakatayo at ang isa pa ay patapos na?

Malaki ang tiwala ng Tsina sa kakayahan nito ngayon pagdating sa mga bagay na may kinalaman sa kaunlaran – pang-ekonomiya man o pandigma. At dahil dito, hindi basta-basta yuyuko ito sa anumang ipag-uutos ng maski isang international Court. Nakikita ng Tsina na humihina ang United Nations bilang organisasyon ng mga bansa. Wala itong nagawa sa mga nangyayaring kaguluhan sa Middle East at Yuropa. Nakikita at nararamdaman ng Tsina ang kahinaan ng Amerika na dinadaan na lang sa verbal bluff ang mga babala. Napahiya si Obama nang may ilang bansa sa Middle East na hindi lubos na nagbigay sa kanya ng supurta upang “mapulbos” ang Islamic State (IS). Kaya ano pa ang magagawa nito sa Southeast Asia na ang ekonomiya nga lang ay nakagapos na sa Tsina? ….kaya kahit toothpick at cotton buds ng mga bansang miyembro ng ASEAN ay galing Tsina!

Malamang sa malamang, kompromiso ang mangyayari sa West Philippine Sea kung saan hahayaan na lang na pangasiwaan ng Tsina ang mga bahurang napatayuan na nito ng mga estruktura, dahil wala naman talagang kakayahang bumangga ang Pilipinas dito. Maaaring naghihintay lamang ang Tsina ng isang provocative na kilos ng Pilipinas upang gumawa ito ng nakakabahalang aksiyon…na sana ay hindi mangyari. Kaya, kung sa tanong na may magagawa pa ang Pilipinas, sa kabila ng mga inihain nitong reklamo sa international court…para sa akin, ang sagot ay isang malungkot na…wala.