Tuesday, June 14, 2011

China Connection

One of the most prominent Chinese residents in San Jose during the pre-WWII era was Co Yan Sio and he was married to my mother’s aunt, Juana Monsobre of Mamburao. Historically, hundred of years before that war, due to its favorable geographical location, Mindoro was an important trading center of Chinese goods during pre-Spanish time. For local products such as beeswax, pearl and sandalwood, Chinese goods such as porcelain, silk or tea were bartered. No doubt, Chinese influence haunts every one of us as a people or as an individual.

Then lately, the territorial conflict between Manila and Beijing over the Spratlys' once again gained the limelight. Pundits even claimed that this is the first acid test on the Aquino administration’s foreign policy. This coming June 28, the Philippines and the United States will conduct a joint military exercise called CARAT or Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training which was programmed since last year. Officials said the exercises were in accordance with the 1951 Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MTD) and aimed at testing the capabilities of the two navies to undertake "freedom of navigation operations". God forbid, but the real trouble comes when Philippines is caught in a crossfire between China and America. It’s one big of a hell… for us!

Just this morning, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano called for the immediate abrogation of the MDT between Manila and Washington. "The United States government is not interested in the conflict between the Philippines and People's Republic of China because it doesn’t serve the interest of the US and its people," Mariano said while reportedly lambasting the so-called US intervention.

But I am just wondering why the Filipino militant organizations and party-list groups, ASIDE from discouraging US intervention did NOT protest against alleged Chinese intrusion in that part of the sea claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam? A protest just like the one staged by hundred of demonstrators, mostly group of young people, in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi last week. This was participated by young militants wearing Vietnamese flags t-shirts and carrying signs that read, "Stop Chinese invasion of Vietnam's islands." Maybe, just maybe, Rep. Mariano do not believed in Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s accusation that China is undermining peace and stability in Asia by allegedly sending naval vessels to intimidate rival claimants in the disputed islands. Or their (Philippine militant’s) meaning and definition of patriotism and nationalism is truly that selective?

For me, this should be rooted down to a peaceful action or a principled negotiation towards a solution acceptable to all claimants and the rest of the countries in the world, taking off from the declaration called "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea", a pact signed in 2002 by China and the members of the ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. All of the claimants other than China should report this supposedly bullying to the United Nations (UN). The Philippines should not let the United States fight for us for, as they say, there’s no such thing as a free meal. Besides, it would entail bigger trouble. Believe me.

As a people, we must not be too emotional, irresponsible and careless about these latest events. On the other hand, our government must stand firm to our ground (or is it “waters”?) and be diplomatic but firm. Let us show them how brave we are. They might hurt us but certainly we will not give up.

Me? I will be relaxing in the beach this weekend and I will enjoy the sight of the sea closest to my heart: the South China Sea now called West Philippine Sea….

(Image : Reuters)

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