The problem with China is the USA
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - September 16, 2019 - 12:00am

I would like to thank lawyer Makilito Mahinay for writing in with regard to my column of Friday, September 13, entitled "60-40 or all-or-nothing," wherein I outlined the difficult position of the Philippines vis-a-vis China and the conflicting claims of both countried over portions of the South China Sea. In so many words I said it is either we agree to share with China what is supposed to be solely ours, or we risk getting nothing at all.

Attorney Mahinay said he has a suggestion, which he made earlier in a letter to President Duterte. According to him, what the Philippines must do, as a followup to the favorable ruling we got from the Permanent Court of Arbitration pertaining to our exclusive economic zone, is to go to the same court again to demand compensation for damages suffered and yet to be suffered as a result of China's deprivation of our enjoyment of our rights.

According to lawyer Mahinay, who is sure of our being awarded damages in light of the previous favorable ruling by the same court, compensation can partly be acquired by freezing some of China's assets wherever possible. I fully agree with the suggestion of Attorney Mahinay because in theory his suggestion is perfectly possible.

The problem with theories is that, in reality, they are just theories. And I foresee this particular theory to melt very quickly under China's unforgiving gaze. Like Attorney Mahinay, I do not see why we could not win compensation from the arbitral court. But then what? China refused to recognize the court in the previous case. i do not see any reason why it will do so now. So what do we do, go ahead and freeze China's assets?

Even if we get around to doing exactly that, do you think China will just sit idly by and watch? Let us not even consider China also freezing the assets of our much more fragile economy, or worse, launching a limited attack to seize unprotected outlying Philippine territories. Let us just consider China putting the squeeze on the thousands of Filipino OFWs working in that country.

One thing we must never fail to put into the equation is that we are the dwarf here, not the giant. China has been able to do all the things it has done precisely because of that. It has all along been acting from a position of unchallenged strength. The global policeman, the role to which the United States used to unilaterally assign to itself, no longer exists. The US, traumatized by 9/11, has relinquished the job in favor of domestic security.

Forays by the United States into the South China Sea in pursuit of so-called freedom of navigation rights are just for show, meant to massage its own wounded pride at not being able to stop China's aggressive usurpation, expansion and militarization of the South China Sea. From the first bucket of sand China dug in the area, the United States already knew what was going on. Nothing, after all, escapes US capability to see and hear everything from the sky. But the US did nothing. Now China is entrenched in the South Chna Sea. The more the US can do nothing.

The problem with China is not China but the USA. China could not have taken control of the South China Sea had the United States promptly blockaded the area when it became clear what mischief China was up to. When China sent engineers and equipment, the US could not have misread it as a picnic.But Barrack Obama just watched China seize and build. Now Xi Jinping is playing ping-pong, the South China Sea his table.

MAKILITO MAHINAY
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