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Cornered

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - November 22, 2015 - 9:00am

If President Aquino was a gracious host to China's President Xi Jinping at the recently concluded APEC summit meeting by not bringing up the maritime problems that currently involve both countries, this was not the case at the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. President Aquino took every opportunity to bring up the maritime issue with China, and called on it to stop all reclamation of islands in the sea. The President also called on all ASEAN member nations not to allow China to use "threat or force to assert its claim on almost the entire South China Sea". Based on satellite photos, it is obvious that the structures built on these reclaimed islands such as runways and buildings could be utilized by their military.

President Aquino got a boost of sorts at the recently concluded APEC summit. The country gained the support of many nations, especially the United States, in its move to bring the maritime row to the UN arbitral tribunal which recently decided it has jurisdiction over the case. Many have lauded the country's move to resolve the issue this way, rather than resorting to intimidation and threats. The country also strengthened ties with countries that have similar territorial issues like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, as well as Japan which have their own territorial problems with China.

The country sort of gained the momentum to press China to halt its reclamation and abide international maritime laws. The UN will continue to hear oral arguments next week, even in the absence of Chinese participation.

Rest assured we can expect some fiery rhetoric from Beijing in the coming days. China seems to have painted itself in a corner, made even more evident at the APEC summit and now the ASEAN meeting. We know that a cornered or wounded animal is at its most dangerous. The US will continue to sail and fly in known international waters and airspace, in its bid to ensure that these lanes are free and safe. President Xi Jinping has said that it desires a "win-win" solution for everyone, but clearly the only winner here is China, thanks to the threat of its massive military.

China has said that it does not want to militarize the region. Clearly, it already is. A Chinese coast guard vessel was recently seen just off Pag-asa island and stayed for nine days. Did the APEC summit have anything to do with this? After APEC and ASEAN summits, what will China say, or do next?

 

 

 

A CHINESE BEIJING BRUNEI AND TAIWAN CHINA IF PRESIDENT AQUINO KUALA LUMPUR PAG PRESIDENT AQUINO PRESIDENT XI JINPING SOUTH CHINA SEA UNITED STATES
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