The first four Taiwan Strait crises


(Continued from previous contribution)

It is time to re-establish SEATO Southeast Asia Treaty Organization patterned on NATO including its paragraph 5: An attack on one member is an attack on the entire alliance. SEATO disbanded in 1977. The Philippines was one of eight members.

We all thought that in the 21st century great nations are civilized enough to solve their differences at the negotiation table. But we have to ascertain that leaders of Russia and China in their insatiable greed for power are rogue barbarians. If the Philippines continues to maintain friendly trade relations with Russia under the cloak of ex-president Duterte’s independent foreign policy she will also be sanctioned and regarded as pariah.

My hope is that the Philippines will join actively the countries that are about to counter China’s aggressiveness. But that comes at a price: Instead of spending only 1.0124% of Gross Domestic Product for defense, the U.S. that spend 3.5% of GDP will expect that the budget will at least double.

But where are the Philippine forces? As early as 1995 China occupied Mischief Reef. President Ramos was helpless and so are all Philippine presidents as supreme commanders of the powerless army since. Most defeatist and cowardly was former president Duterte who even cozied up to the enemy and was reluctant to accept American forces on these islands. Result: China built and militarized a line of artificial islands in our Exclusive Economic Zone and exploits the waters around them. Foreign ministers regularly send protest notes to Xi Jinping, but incursions continue.

In 2022 we saw many more Taiwan Strait crises. That they also ended with mere saber-rattling and furious threats from Beijing we owe to the presence of American, Japanese, and Australian navies near Taiwan. Powerful demonstration of force is the only means that deter bully China from launching a war.

After Pelosi’s visit, another delegation of American lawmakers came to Taiwan. Delegations from Japan, United Kingdom, Canada and Denmark are scheduled to visit Taiwan this year. That will cause more scrambling of forces in the air, on land, on and under the sea and in space at high cost for China whose economy is already declining.

By no means will China raid their neighbor Vietnam because the Chinese learned their lesson when in 1979 they attacked three Vietnamese cities. Within one month they were defeated. Vietnam is the graveyard of empires: In its history China, France, Japan, United States, and China again --they all came short of subduing the Vietnamese people. Can the Philippine people unite and fight as did the Vietnamese? Can they unite and fight as bravely as the Ukrainians do against a putative much stronger opponent?

Erich Wannemacher

Lapu-Lapu City


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