Antonio V. Figueroa
CHINA’S EXPANSIONIST motive to bully and subjugate smaller nations, especially countries in the southeast Asian region, has slowly raised the temperature in the South China Sea.
Even the usually docile Philippines, right after firming up its ties with the US through the expanded defense cooperation agreement (EDCA), has raised its voice, crackling knuckles and gnashing teeth. Of course, the annoyance is not about any other matter but the cancerously consistency that Beijing uses in accusing the country, particularly the media establishment, of misquoting the statement of a naive Chinese envoy to the Philippines.
For years, Beijing has treated the Manila administration like an idiot, bullying and taking it for a ride. This pattern of diplomatic abuse has been going on and is on a crescendo. Recently, during The Manila Forum, the trashing became even more disparaging because the envoy’s statement was made in Manila, the host, not in Beijing. Let us revisit his speech for context.
“Some tried to find excuse for the new EDCA sites by citing the safety of the 150,000 OFWs in Taiwan, while China is the last country that wishes to see conflict over the Strait because people on both sides are Chinese. But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities. The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose ’Taiwan independence’ rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs.”
When the media outlets started fleshing out Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian’s threatening speech, the response was that he was misreported or his statement was taken out of context.
For a country that has been speaking the King’s language (i.e., English) for over a century, to be deemed an idiot is a direct insult to the Filipino intelligence. Why would we misquote Huang when his message was loud and clear, and the context of his speech is clearly about interference in another nation’s choices? Unlike Huang, the Filipinos are a conscientious people!
Earlier, he also stated: “We each have our respective claims and positions regarding the South China Sea. Differences thereof should be resolved by parties directly involved through dialogues and with mutual respect. That is why China is committed to strengthening dialogue mechanisms between us. Provocative actions or bringing in external forces will not help but further complicate the situation and cause more problems, putting regional peace and security at risk. We should learn from history and avoid repeating mistakes.”
The value of dialogue for China, as a matter of fact, only exists between her and an ally like Russia. Smaller nations, those who are subservient to the overtures of Beijing, are not spared the intimidation from Chinese double talk. And when the commentary becomes contrary to Beijing’s expectation, what ensues is name-calling and stupid justifications.
The Philippines, a defensively weak country, has never terrorized China. Following the global conventions, it uses the international courts to argue its case, Win or lose, it respects the value of our commitment to the UN. For China, the reverse is true, despite its status in the world body.
China’s bullying or veiled threat against the Filipino nation is slowly getting its comeuppance in terms of verbal retort. Recently, a high-ranking AFP official, after hearing Beijing’s criticism against EDCA, came out with a strong statement, attacking Chinese double-standard policy. Better still, after Huang’s speech, Sen. Risa Hontiveros was diplomatic in saying the Chinese envoy should be withdrawn, short of saying he should be declared persona non grata.
China’s arrogance is hitting the roof, and there is no arguing this behavior, even if we complain, will continue, because we do not have the wherewithal to shut her mouth up. (AVF)