Beijing waging ‘3 Warfares’ against UN arbitral ruling
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

President Rody Duterte is to raise with China’s Xi Jinping the Philippines’ victory in the South China Sea arbitration. Presumably aides rehearsed him on the salient points, expected retorts, and best refutations. One cannot just wing it. Though three years late, as some experts rue, Manila needs to put on record Filipinos’ wish to assert the UN award.

In 501 pages in July 2016 The Hague arbitral court ruled that:

(1) China’s nine-dash line claim over the entire SCS was invalid. Formalized in 2009, that claim deemed the SCS as China’s internal waters due to supposed historic right. Yet the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed by 168 parties including China and the Philippines, recognizes no such entitlement. Coastal states may enjoy only a 200-nm exclusive economic zone in adjacent seas.

(2) Naturally uninhabitable features in the Spratlys cannot generate an EEZ. Thus China cannot claim a 200-nm EEZ from an occupied reef and then overlap the Philippines’ own EEZ. It is unseemly for a mere Chinese-controlled sandbar to outrank such huge Philippine islands as Luzon and Palawan.

(3) China violated Philippine sovereign rights when it grabbed Scarborough Shoal in 2012 and prevented Filipinos from fishing there. Only 123 nm from Luzon, Scarborough is well within the Philippines’ 200-nm EEZ but 650 nm beyond China’s nearest coast. China also illegally harassed Filipino vessels from exploring and extracting oil and natural gas from Recto Bank, also within Philippine and outside China EEZs.

(4) China aggravated the maritime dispute by transforming and fortifying seven reefs within Philippine EEZ and extended continental shelf. Members are bound by the UN Charter and UNCLOS to respect arbitral proceedings. Peace depends on it, as rule of law means “right is might.” China instead primitively acted as if “might is right.”

(5) China harmed the environment by concreting the seven reefs into artificial island-fortresses. Reefs sustain marine life. The reclamations destroyed fish spawning and feeding grounds.

Beijing waged its vile “Three Warfares” against Manila’s arbitral victory. During and after the arbitration it bellicosely treated the Philippines as an enemy instead of a friendly neighbor seeking third-party conciliation.

“San zhong zhanfa”, loosely “three warfares”, are employed by the People’s Liberation Army, the private armed force of the Chinese Communist Party. (The dictatorial Party’s chairman is the president of the People’s Republic of China and head of the Central Military Commission, to which the PLA reports.) The strategies, polished and adopted as PLA doctrines, proceed from Sun Tzu’s teaching 2,500 years ago that, “Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

The “Three Warfares” consist of:

• Strategic psychological operations, like military, paramilitary, diplomatic, or seemingly friendly cultural actions designed to scare or wither the resolve of target audiences;

• Media manipulation, overt or covert, to plant Chinese communist propaganda in mainstream, informal, and online outlets;

• Legal trickery, in domestic or international planes, to weaken or limit the options of perceived adversaries.

A prime example of strategic psy-ops was Beijing’s imposition of an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea while The Hague hearings were ongoing. In the media were planted propaganda that the SCS was off-limits to Philippine military aircraft and commercial airlines must seek permission to fly across lest they be shot down. A Manila agency then reportedly advised airlines to comply. Swift US action, by way of bomber fly-bys and destroyer sail-bys in the SCS and East China Sea, silenced Beijing.

Still Beijing escalated tensions by militarizing the SCS. Naval squadrons were dispatched to reefs within Malaysia’s EEZ, and a warship-backed giant oil rig nearly planted in Vietnam’s Paracel archipelago. In the seven reclaimed Philippine reefs and other SCS features were built naval bases, landing strips, combat helipads, missile launch pads, and signal jammers. Military transport and fighter aircraft were test-landed.

At that time the ASEAN was drafting a Code of Conduct for disputants in the SCS. Attempting a legal ruse, Beiiing inserted a proviso for status quo in the area. Had Manila signed, it would have been tied to accepting China’s occupation and militarization of Philippine reefs, Scarborough, and Recto Bank.

China’s “three warfares” to wear down Manila go on to this day. It continues to ignore the UN arbitral award, propagandizing that “in the end China will win.” It revises history by claiming to never have invaded any country, contrary to what happened to Japan, Korea, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Tibet, and Java. It dispatches maritime militia vessels to swarm and poach in Scarborough, Reed Bank, the seven occupied reefs, and Palawan’s Pagasa Island and Sandy Cay. It harasses Filipino sailors and airmen who resupply Marines in Ayungin Shoal. It attempts to shoo away aircraft, including those of the Philippine defense secretary and armed forces chief, from landing on Pagasa Island. Entering Philippine territorial waters like Sibutu Strait, Chinese naval and exploration ships travel not in straight paths and shut off automatic identification systems.

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