Beijing surveys Philippines reefs while donating virus tests
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2020 - 12:00am

One simply can’t trust China’s communist rulers. As Beijing gave Manila Covid-19 test kits it bolstered control of two of seven Philippine reefs it illegally is occupying. Civilian ruses were used, no different from deploying fisheries militia to Philippine maritime jurisdictions.

China’s Academy of Science “established two research stations” on Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs, the official Xinhua News Agency announced last weekend. “Scientists [will] live and conduct field research on ecology, geology, and environment.”

The “research” constitutes further incursion in waters within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone plus 150-mile extended continental shelf. A satellite image of the station on Fiery Cross, Yongshu Island to Beijing, accompanied the Xinhua report.

“The Yongshu station already has systems monitoring coral reef biomes, the island’s flora, and freshwater conservation. On the Zhubi (Subi) islands, it recently finished the designs for its seismic stability and freshwater monitoring systems,” Xinhua stated. “The academy said the stations will help scientists expand their research into deep-sea ecology, geology, environment, material sciences, and marine energy.”

Twenty and 55 miles respectively from Philippine Pagasa island municipality, Subi and Fiery Cross are in fisheries-rich Spratlys. The archipelago is said to also contain oil, gas, and other minerals. From Subi, Beijing dispatches armed militia fishing vessels to swarm around Pagasa, spy on Philippine naval movements, and harass Filipino fishers.

In the 2000s Beijing used the state-funded academy as mouthpiece to justify its unfounded claim over the entire South China Sea. In 2013 Beijing grabbed and concreted reefs into island fortresses, militarizing the waters through which flows yearly $5 trillion in world commerce. A seventh reef, Mischief 130 miles off Palawan, was occupied as far back as 1995 ostensibly as fishermen’s shelter. Renamed Meiji Island, it is now a base of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)-Navy. The academy also is the PLA’s frontline in surveying Benham Rise, the Philippines’ extended continental shelf on the Pacific side, for submarine berths.

The UN arbitral court in 2016 outlawed Beijing’s expansive claim. It ruled that China violated Philippine maritime rights in grabbing the reefs, exploring the seabed, and poaching marine resources. Beijing ignored the verdict. Instead it augmented warships with armed Coast Guard, maritime enforcement, and fisheries militia – seemingly civilian but reporting to the PLA. The victorious communist force in 1949, the PLA is under the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. The party chief, also the Chinese president, directly heads the CMC.

Xinhua said “the two stations are branches of the academy’s general research center on Meiji Island [Mischief], which was built to support China’s undertakings in ecological protection, resource utilization, and sustainable development in the South China Sea. The Meiji Research Center was launched in 2018 and is run by the academy’s newly-established South China Sea Innovation Institute for Ecological and Environmental Engineering.”

Last Saturday in Manila the Chinese embassy made a big show of donating 100,000 Covid-19 test kits to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs. It was the second dole; 2,000 kits came five days ahead. The Philippines direly needs testing and other medical supplies to contain the pandemic that sprang from Wuhan in Dec. (The first reported COVID-19 cases in the Philippines were a couple from Wuhan; the male died while the partner recovered.) Manila hosts about 150,000 Chinese workers in overseas gaming operations. A number of them are said to be military spies on immersion mission.

Also last weekend in the Czech Republic, Beijing delivered a million respirators for potential severe Covid-19 patients. Earlier Prague received 250,000 test kits. Three more planeloads were expected Sunday with more respirators, two million face masks, personal protection equipment, and other medical supplies. In Dec. 2018 the Czech cyber-security agency became the first in Europe to ban Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE for spyware in 5G technologies. Last Dec. 2019 the prime minister suddenly sacked the three-year-long agency chief allegedly for inexperience. Before heading cyber-security the latter was for ten years with the Czech national security department.

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At first PUI meant Patient Under Investigation; that is, being checked for Covid-19 infection so must self-quarantine in the meantime. Now it means Puwedeng Umikot-Ikot, especially among political VIPs.

But seriously, politicos have long gotten used to being above the law of man. In the midst of pandemic, as the death toll rises daily, maybe they can contemplate not being above the law of nature.

Meanwhile, we fervently pray that God’s healing hand touch the national and local leaders who have tested positive.

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

Gotcha archives: www.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

 

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