When the Chinese dragon and American eagle collide
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 7, 2018 - 12:00am

When the Chinese dragon and the US eagle fight in a war dance, what will happen to the Philippine maya?

Pentagon Chief and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have reportedly spoken at the Singapore Security Summit last week that America is poised to retaliate against China’s relentless military build-up in the South China Sea. He said the US will not just ignore the ‘’weaponization’’ by Beijing of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, in violation of international law and in defiance of the decision by the International Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague. Mattis declared that the first step of that retaliation was that the US ‘’disinvited’’ China to that summit. Mattis decried that Xi Jinping reneged on his 2015 promise in the White House that China would not “militarize’’ the islands.

Mattis warned China that it faces a ‘’larger consequence’’ for its military build-up and illegal deployment of high-end weapons in the disputed waterways and artificial islands. Washington is certainly aware that Beijing has deployed, the past few months, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers on the disputed reefs and islets. Pentagon has been monitoring the developments in the region, and has enough evidence to prove that China landed nuclear bombers on Woody Islands, proximate to the Spratly’s that is contested by the Philippines, Vietnam and other claimants, including China. These unilateral moves constitute unlawful aggressions and, by international law, China deserves an immediate and corresponding retaliation.

Those usual American brave words and braggadocio has not been translated into specific and definite commitment to come to the aid of the Philippines should China continue to threaten us with ceaseless annexation of our claimed territories. Filipinos are the small collateral damage when dragons and eagles begin a war dance in the South China Sea. The Philippines has no assurance of US support in the face of China’s bullying and active installation of military hardware in the islets. Notwithstanding international censure, and of arbitration’s adverse decision, it continues to build and expand its militarization in the West Philippine Sea.

Characteristic of all diplomatic liars, Mattis hid under the haze of general statements when he declared in Singapore that the US does not have a specific commitment that the Chinese-occupied islets and reefs are covered by the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. To balance his vague generalization, Mattis assured that this is a matter currently discussed by Manila and Washington governments. Mattis adroitly avoided to mention that, under the 1951 Treaty between the US and the Philippines, they are committed to come to the aid of each other if one is under armed attack.

The Filipinos have always relied on the Americans, since the time of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and lately, Barrack Obama. They always talk on ambiguous terms, and so, they are hardly bound by specific commitments. But, all these notwithstanding, I still believe that the Filipinos are better off with the Americans than the untested Chinese dragons. The eagle may look kindly at a maya. The dragon may eat us alive.

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