China’s bluster

The soonest the Philippines can conduct joint patrols with countries like the United States and Japan in contested waters the better.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Sunday continued its rant over the alliance between America and the Philippines that has been strengthened by the two nations’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA.

The latest tirade from China came on the heels of US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson expressing the view (or is it hope?) that EDCA would not serve as a “magnet” for “Chinese aggressive behavior.”

We say hope because Beijing, or any country for that matter, is responsible for what actions they undertake on whatever issues are on hand, and on whether those actions are justified by the stimulus, perceived or real.

In this case, EDCA is the stimulus to which China is reacting hotly, with the Chinese Embassy warning that the Philippines hosting US troops within its borders would “seriously harm” its interests, as well as undermine regional peace and stability.

China is not being poker-faced in laying down its cards and bare threat over what it described as America’s effort to “secure its hegemony and selfish geopolitical interests.”

Notwithstanding China’s effort to cloak its threat with the preface that “peace and development remain the theme of this era and the call of people around the world,” Beijing’s actions in the West Philippine Sea have put into question its claimed effort to foster peace.

America, according to the embassy, is using EDCA with the Philippines to serve its geopolitical interests and to contain China. In saying America wants to contain it, China all but admitted its expansionist design, starting in the South China Sea.

China has long ago reclaimed land in the West Philippine Sea to host military bases, which it has used as forward positions or outposts from where harassment of Filipino fishermen and our patrolling navy and coast guard have emanated from.

Containing China is indeed a must with its self-proclaimed intent to retake Taiwan and to lord it over the whole of SCS, including parts of the West Philippine Sea to which the Philippines has internationally recognized rights to explore and benefit from as its exclusive economic zone.

With its latest statement, China has made clear that it does not believe the climate change and disaster resilience peg given by the Philippines and the US in justifying EDCA.

“It is plain and simple that those moves are part of the US efforts to encircle and contain China through its military alliance with this country,” the Chinese Embassy said.

That may be true, that disaster resilience was just a cover story hatched by the US for the establishment of areas in the Philippines for American troops and war machines.

However, China’s bullying in the Indo-Pacific Region like its swarming of the Philippine shoals, radio challenges to our navy and coast guard, and laser attacks, should be stopped.

The soonest the Philippines can conduct joint patrols with countries like the United States and Japan in contested waters the better. China would certainly think twice about conducting aggressive actions against Filipinos in the SCS if our traditional ally in the US is with us.

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