China lets the communists’ private army do the talking

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - July 8, 2013 - 12:00am

Last week’s ASEAN foreign ministers’ conference in Brunei can be likened to a neighborhood association meeting. The ten neighbors had invited to their regular gathering two prominent outsiders, Ching and Sam. They wanted to hear what the two were planning in their locale, particularly the fishpond that the neighbors encircle and which abuts Ching’s own fishpond.

To the surprise of the ten neighbors, their guest Ching harangued one of them, Pino. Claiming to own the adjoining ponds, Ching ranted that Pino’s opposition was creating trouble. Provocative was Pino in guarding the segment of the combined ponds fronting his house, Ching screamed, and in exhorting the neighbors to protect their own frontages. Insolent too was Pino’s repeated request for the neighbors to deal as one with Ching regarding their conduct in their pond. Although it was directed seemingly only at Pino, Ching’s tirade was intended as a warning to the entire neighborhood association.

After Ching’s rude outburst at the neighbors’ session, Pino sought permission to respond. Calmly he explained that he was not making trouble, for they all knew he had no ambition or arms like Ching’s. He was only asserting what he believed to be just and legal, which is that Ching owns the abutting pond, but that the neighbors had a right to their pond. In good faith, Pino said, he had gone to court precisely for peaceful arbitration of the claims. If the court decides that the neighbors relinquish their pond to Ching, then so be it. With that, Pino extended his right hand in friendship. Ching turned to walk away. Pino put an arm on Ching’s shoulder and assured, “Nothing personal, let’s be amicable.”

Meanwhile, Sam sat unusually silent. He is vociferous and even meddlesome in other neighborhoods, but in front of Ching’s impudence he was quiet. The ten neighbors have long sensed emptiness in Sam’s frequent proclamations of alliance and assistance. He seems to be saying it only to make a quick buck in their locale.

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China has been stridently militaristic towards the Philippines of late, with its generals fulminating about armed confrontation. Last week while China’s foreign minister met with ASEAN counterparts, the official Chinese Communist Party organ called for counterstrike against Manila’s supposed provocations in disputed waters. The irresponsible line from the People’s Daily’s came as China prepared to grab yet another shoal, Ayungin, within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone, after invading Scarborough Shoal in 2012 and Mischief Reef in 1995.

The paper’s war agitation was followed by a Chinese general’s opinionating that the Philippines was a troublemaker in the region. People’s Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan said in Beijing, on the eve of the Indian defense chief’s visit, that “the role of the Philippines in the South China [Sea] is actually, in my view, a troublemaker ... and the biased United States is adding fuel to the fire.” Filipino and American sailors have just concluded yearly joint naval exercises in Philippine waters. Washington supports Manila’s request for United Nations arbitration instead of confrontation to settle sea disputes.

It is not the first time that Luo publicly has commented about the Philippines. In April 2012 he gave the Philippines a “last chance” to accept China’s claim to the entire South China (West Philippines) Sea, or else face “decisive action.” Describing himself in oxymoron “a reasonable hardliner,” Luo is the PLA deputy for world military research.

Other Chinese generals speak out of turn in a region that prefers civilian dialogue. In July 2011 PLA chief Gen. Chen Bingde branded as “inappropriate” that year’s long planned U.S. military drills with the Philippines and Vietnam. Last May Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong bragged on Beijing TV about the PLA-Navy’s strategy to keep occupation of Scarborough, 124 nautical miles from Luzon and more than 800 miles from the nearest Chinese coast.

China must know that decent, democratic governments do not let their generals do the talking. Public rebukes and sackings of generals who publicly opinionate about regional or military matters surely have not escaped Beijing’s attention. Yet it lets uniformed men in charge of armies, warships, fighter jets, and missiles to comment about other countries. This only shows the militaristic bent of Beijing’s communist rulers. They talk of China’s “peaceful rise” but practice the “might is right” thinking of bullies.

To be sure, the 2.25 million-strong PLA is the world’s biggest private army. The PLA is loyal not to the Chinese state but to the communist despots. The communist chairman, who eventually becomes state President, automatically heads the party’s military commission, to which the PLA reports. A retired chairman keeps the powerful military headship till a year after his replacement is named. In control of state resources, the party plows hundreds of billions of dollars into the PLA. The party plunks in additional, and lets the generals earn extra personal millions from military corporations.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives: http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com


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