The consequences of electing China’s candidate

THE CORNER ORACLE - Andrew J. Masigan - The Philippine Star

The Stratbase Institute recently organized a briefing with war expert and author, Elbridge Colby. Colby was the US Assistant Secretary of Defense  responsible for defense strategies, armed forces development and analysis of war-related policies. Colby’s talk was a sobering wake-up call for us Filipinos.

There is no question about it – China will invade Taiwan to annex it back to the People’s Republic of China. It is not a question of if, but when, declared   Colby. China’s Anti Secession Law, passed on March 14, 2005, holds the Chinese Communist Party duty-bound to reclaim Taiwan. In fact, Article 8 of the said statute mandates the Chinese government to use military force if “all peaceful means” have been exhausted.   Colby’s educated guess is that the invasion could happen between 2027 and 2033.

The Philippines is the second natural target for China, says the war expert. This is cause for alarm for us but not a surprise given our geography. The northern tip of the Philippines is a mere 100 kilometers from the Taiwanese mainland. This makes the Philippines strategic for the annexation of Taiwan.   China needs to control the Philippines, specifically Luzon, for military leverage over Taiwan’s southern point.

American military presence in the Philippines will foil the Chinese plan. This is why the Chinese government has been working to stage a Philippine pivot to China and away from the US.

The fiercely independent people of Taiwan are ready to wage a valiant resistance against the Chinese. Along with her allies, Taiwan is militarily prepared to fight toe-to-toe. Colby sees a bloody war that unfortunately will involve weapons of mass destruction.  Luzon will be a battleground unless the Philippines acts now, with urgency, to insulate our borders. We need to make our posture clear. To have a flimsy, neutral or tentative posture works to China’s favor.

If Taiwan falls, the effect on the Philippines will be acute and direct, warns Colby. See, China plans to dominate Asia in the political, military and economic spheres – and to do that it needs to control the First Island Chain, composed of Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. Whoever has military control over the First Island Chain is in the position to gain dominion over the entire Asian region.

With 50 percent of global GDP, Asia is the “Decisive Theater” of this century. It is not Europe. China aspires to be the world’s economic and military superpower. As it stands, the red republic already operates a larger naval armada than the US and Japan, combined. Its purpose is not to defend its boarders but to conquer others.

Geopolitical experts agree that for now, China’s goal is not to annex the Philippines but to install a government that bends to its will. Its objective is to have the Philippines disaffiliate from the United States. Doing so will give China free reign over our archipelago without resistance from the Philippine Armed Forces, America and our joint allies.  Since 2016, China has begun its campaign to control the Philippines without even firing a single gunshot. It continues to do so through quid pro quo arrangement with politicians, by military intimidation and by a push-&-pull tactic of economic lures and threats of sanctions.

For as long as the Philippines has a pro-China president, China’s ambition to be the preeminent global superpower remains on track. For the Filipino, however, having a government subsumed by China carries grave consequences. What is at stake is our sovereign borders (which will be increasingly occupied by China), our democratic way of life and the risk of our islands being the battleground of war.    We should not elect a president who exposes us to these risks.

We should never think, for one moment, that China would not use military means to take control of our territories. Given the Philippines’ importance to China’s grand ambitions, it will not hesitate to invade our lands if need be. It has already done so in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

So how must we prepare for the imminent invasion of Taiwan and ensure that the Philippines will neither be the battleground of war nor attacked by Chinese forces?

We must elect the presidential candidate who is not under Chinese influence. This is fundamental to all. Our next president must be present, decisive and able to operate under immense pressure. He/she must be credible as a pro-democratic head of state since alliances and defense treaties will have to be formed with like-minded nations.

Policy-wise, the next administration must prioritize the following: Intensify our cooperation with the United States, especially on the military front; Optimize our defense agreements with like-minded nations such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and India; Ensure the continuity of the Philippine Armed Forces’ modernization program with greater focus on naval, aerial and strategic defense assets; Formulate a new national security strategy based on the July 2016 Arbitral Ruling of the WPS dispute; Maintain a firm, consistent and uncompromising position of Philippine sovereign rights over the WPS; Establish a vigorous cyber defense posture; Build-up capacities in disease surveillance in anticipation of biological  attacks.

Agility is important, hence, regular national risk assessments must be undertaken to calibrate Philippine policies.

Professor Victor Andres Manhit summarizes our situation succinctly. He said, “Due to the growing military power of China, the Philippines must utilize its expansive network to secure the freedom of the seas and to counter aggressive behavior from China’s maritime militia. More importantly, the defense agreements with the US must be revisited to ensure maximum (sic) inter-operability vis a vis new and emerging threats. Simultaneously, it should continue the AFP modernization program to strengthen its capability to defend the country’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty.”

The Philippines must protect itself from being a battleground of war or invaded.  It all starts by electing the candidate who is not beholden to China.

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Email: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @aj_masigan


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