The Morality of Self Justification

Self Justification -BertCosmoDoctorA few weeks ago in the right column, I expressed admiration for the Chinese way of conducting business on international affairs.

Chinese leaders follow a fundamental morality – the system that defines right and wrong – that states China is right in all words and deeds. Therefore, to object is not only wrong, but it is offensive. Then her leaders and spokespeople twist any objection inside out to make whoever is objecting seem negligent and a trouble-maker.

Deployment of this morality is as brilliant and steadfast in its execution as is the cabbage strategy, the stepwise progression east to claim the seas right up to the beaches of the Philippines.

The peculiar self-justifying morality is why China always ends up attaching an insult to any response to a complaint from others. If you took Chinese words as truth, you’d think Asia is made up of a bunch of rabble-rousing nations of no discerning value whatsoever, except for China.

  • “The incredible nerve you have, criticizing the great wisdom of Chinese leaders.”

I spewed my coffee when reading about the Chinese outrage at the “confusion” Malaysia was sowing regarding a missing jetliner because, two days before, China had bandied about satellite images of flotsam in the seas that it said were likely the aircraft parts, but it was determined that they were only outdated photos. But such matters – such mistakes and confusion – are mysteriously deemed irrelevant to the issue, as is China’s penchant for not telling ANYTHING straight and hiding behind canned government policies promulgated as “news”.

The  dispute is on the edge of irreparable harm, as Malaysians are getting fed up with Chinese posturing.

In the extreme, this self-justification morality becomes North Korean in direction, weight and intensity, and those who complain are hauled to the back yard and shot. Even girlfriends, uncles and neighbors along with their wives, cousins and children.

The Morality of Self Justification

There is a lunacy to it, this morality that starts with the presumption that I can’t be wrong, so anyone who objects is an offensive fellow. And offensive fellows are diminished to the point of total loss of compassion and humanity and . . .

. . . well, atrocities are just a heartbeat away . . .

Well, we all are a little lunatic, I suppose. Anyone who writes goes through a phase of writer’s pride, where any criticism about a draft text hurts one’s feelings. Successful writers usually get past this and adopt instead the notion that “two heads are better than one.” Indeed, authors often thank critics on the attribution pages of their books.

In other words, they learn to listen, and respect what others say.

But not those who believe they must present themselves as immune to mistakes.

self justification 01

The self-justification morality motivates the thinking of the “100 percenter” we see in a lot of blog comment threads, the debater who defends his initial argument to the end.

  • “I said it, so it must be right.”

Well, when an individual does this to extreme ends, we recognize that somewhere in the morality lurks a weakness of self-esteem. A fear of being wrong.

Is China also lacking self esteem? Or are her leaders?

When the entire world seems to gang up on you, not understand you, not listen to or respect you . . .

You develop “attitude”.

China, rather than taking pride in her achievements, seems rather the schoolyard bully, out to prove something. Always out to prove something.

I wonder if her leaders will ever “get it”, that what China has accomplished over the recent decades is next to miraculous. Building commercial wealth and implementing the social changes that have raised the standard of living for hundreds of millions of people in China. And around the world, frankly.

Is there guilt at the way it was done or something? Some sense that stealing the commercial secrets of others was bad, and therefore we are bad people? We must therefore prove that we are good? Perfect, actually.

Is there no comprehension that China’s economic progress is best protected by being among a community of friends? And that it is placed at risk by offending the people who run the markets into which she sells her goods?

Economic collapse is just a few sanctions away.

I think most states have personalities that represent the sum of the personalities of the leaders of the land, which in turn reflect the sum total of the values of all the peoples in the land.

A few years ago, China was on the cusp of arriving as a constructive and healthy world player, and then, for some reason, went a tad North Korean on us over claims to the oceans.

This may have been a function of crusty old-school military men grabbing a bigger share of the conflicted power plate that is the Chinese ruling committee. Connivers who give themselves a little too much credit for being smart.

But it is unhealthy.

China seems to believe leaders of other lands, and journalists, and educated people around the globe are malleable to posturing that borders on the ludicrous. In short, Chinese leaders and spokespeople believe the greater world is made up of fools. Or , then again, perhaps China is just talking to herself, to her own citizens, with that relentlessly illogical and insulting babble.

If so, they are the fools.

Unfortunately, self-justifying bullies don’t learn how to deal with others in a polite way because, to them, that is weak. Which is why it is impossible to appease China with either concession or objection. One is weakness, to be exploited, the other offensive, to be condemned.

The Morality of Self Justification should be recognized for what it is.


54 Responses to “The Morality of Self Justification”
  1. Joseph-Ivo says:

    China is the center of the world, the country in the middle or Zhōngguó, all the rest is periphery. A good family man optimizes one equation, his family. Other values are secondary, others are there to take advantage of. A good Chines leader optimizes only one equation, China. Other values are secondary, the rest of the world are tools to do just that. Almost like the people with the unlimited opportunities of the exceptional country America see the world as their garden to pick the fruits of the superior progress they plant (Coco Cola, Mc Donald, Starbucks, Apple, casino banking, mono-cultures, inequality, rent…. )

    For a political leader there are facts and perception. Factual progress and the perception of progress. Facts are statistics, averages, but my individual situation of having less than – is real. Half a billion Chinese have something and wonder why some have so much more. Half a billion Chinese still have nothing and wonder why they are not part of the progress. This is an extremely dangerous situation, the fuel of all revolutions in the past. As with kids, you have to deviate attention. Nationalism is like candy, all love it. The others are idiots, we are the heroes. Even worse they are out to steal our rightful riches, to rape our virtuous women, to drug our precious children. As a leader you have to distract your people to continue the successful path you are following.

    The Filipinos, killed our people in a bus, on a fishing boat! They grabbed our precious islands in the South China Sea! They never restituted for the pogroms in previous centuries! Therefore, fellow Chinese, this will be our priority: we will expand our armada, our air force, our rocket systems, our electronic capabilities, our economic leverage… to defend our most beloved country. Follow us.

    • Joe America says:

      Nice characterization. Scary characterization. Sometimes I hold such high hopes for the human condition, when we as separate nations are able to talk and even fight peacefully, and work to resolve problems, like most of the modern world does on trade issues, issues of immigration, and so forth. Few aspire to claim land that is not theirs anymore: Russia, China, and Israel (morally, I suppose not theirs). Maybe more would if they had the power, as that is the motive that drives all the rebel groups around the world, claiming a land where a new totalitarianism can take hold. But for the most part, there are a lot of people who see that war is stupid and crazy and painful. I don’t think the Chinese are among this group, based on their rigid intolerance and incapacity to even HEAR what others are saying.

      • sonny says:

        When I think of China, India and the Catholic Church the word monolith always come attached to them. China has 1.35 billion population, India 1.23 billion, Catholic Church 1.1 billion members. But just as fast I have to segment in order to wrap my mind around manageable and meaningful insights about each one. (I have to mention this first, Joe. I’m just mind-boggled for now)

        • Joe America says:

          I’m confident you will unboggle, given enough time to ponder.

        • edgar lores says:


          To help you along:

          1. In terms of religion, India has many religions; the Catholic Church is a denomination of one religion; and China is an atheist state but tolerates many religions.

          2. India was the birthplace of Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism. China the birthplace of Taoism and Confucianism. Christianity, Islam and Judaism – the Abrahamic religions – were born in the Middle East.

          3. Christianity has 2.2 billion followers, of which 1.1 billion are Catholics, 800 million are Protestants and 300 million Orthodox . Islam has 1.6 billion followers and Hinduism 1.1 billion. Buddhism has 488 million followers.

          4. The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic (one God), while the religions of India and China are polytheistic (many gods) or poly-deistic (many deities). Buddhism is supposed to be non-theistic, but is poly-deistic in popular practice.

          5. Christianity (and Islam) are orthodox religions (faith-based) while the religions of India and China are orthopraxic religions (action- or practice-based religion).
          5.1. Tentative conclusion: This might explain why there are so many thieves in Congress and the public service.
          5.2. Actually, from the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Philippines and India are tied in rank at 94, and China is just a little bit higher at rank 80.
          5.3. Final conclusion: Most people are religious, by faith and by practice (prayers and rites), but they are not spiritual in practice (daily action).

          • sonny says:

            Edgar, this is a most helpful first-stage unpacking of the 3 “monoliths.” Thank you. Allow me some more data about these 3 that are swimming in my mind.

            INDIA data: a) ethnology – Dravidian (dark complexion), Aryan (fair); b) religion – polytheistic (some count 1 million+ religions), much of India is under tropical cover, i.e. teeming with life forms, resulting in cults & religions, e.g. cobra, simian; and the non-religion of Buddhism; c) sociology – the caste system of brahmins, warriors, untouchables. Christian missionary work is addressed to the untouchables because the other castes is impervious to the Christian message.

            • edgar lores says:


              I believe India is a more remarkable place than China in terms of diversity, extremes, and reach. Both are cradles of civilization but India and China are the only two modern nations rooted in antiquity. (Modern Egypt is not a continuity of ancient Egypt.)

              I do not know which is older, but I hope it’s India because India is not expansionist!

              Ethnically, your first classification, shows there are dark and fair Indians. China has 50-60 ethnic groups while India is reported to have more than 2,000!

              Religion-wise, it’s a bit of an irony that while Buddhism was born in India, China is greatly responsible for its westward spread due to its control of Tibet and the forced exile of the Dalai Lama. Arguably, India has produced more spiritual teachers and mystics than any other country or civilization.

              The caste system is associated with Hinduism. It’s interesting that Christianity cannot make headway in India except for the dispossessed. How can Christian cosmology, even with its three-in-one-god mystery, compete with the Hindu cosmology that conceives of the Earth resting on the back of 4 elephants, resting on the back of a huge tortoise, supported by a serpent floating in a limitless ocean?

              Discounting Peace Prizes, China has 2 Nobels in Literature and 4 in Physics. India has 1 in Literature; 2 in Physics; 1 in Medicine; 1 in Economics; and 1 in Chemistry.

              There are so many other points of comparison: food, sports, cinema, etc. Interestingly, India at 103 ranks below the Philippines (57) and China (91) in the Social Progress Index. However if you had a choice between these two countries teeming with humankind, which country would you rather be reborn in?

              (Just a thought: re JoeAm’s past blog on “Thinking Positive about the Philippines”, the Social Progress Index puts us in a very good place against other global indices.)

          • sonny says:

            CHINA data: a) ethnology – as far as I can tell population is mostly Han Chinese; I don’t how much Mongol blood is included; b) sociology – Chinese with Confucian education and world-view vs. the huddled masses; economics – satellites Hongkong and Taiwan; Philippine Chinese have less ties to the mainland; the Philippines is a democratic & economic haven for the Hokkien Chinese; transient migration to the Philippine islands has been from Fujian province; c) religion – mainly atheist; there are between 2 – 3 million Catholic Chinese; the hierarchy recognized by Rome are underground; there is a state-sponsored Catholic hierarchy.

            • Joe America says:

              Archbishop Tagle would be of Rome? What are the CBCP bishops? They for sure engage the state, but are at odds with the current administration and seem cozy to the corrupt.

              • sonny says:

                In countries with sizeable Catholic populations, the Church operates in administrative units called dioceses. Each is under a Bishop. They speak through one voice on doctrine and temporal matters through a Bishops’ Conference (CBCP). There are premier dioceses mostly because of history. They are Manila, Cebu, Nueva Caceres (Bicol) and Nueva Segovia (Ilocos). Cardinal Tagle is archbishop of Manila. There are presently 16 archbishops in the Philippines. The Pope has named Archbishops Tagle & Quevedo as Cardinals (electors of the Pope).

                “Seem cozy to the corrupt…” Anyone can decide on this perception since each has his own standard to measure the bishops by and with what passes for personal truth.

          • sonny says:

            CATHOLICISM data: a) Founder – Jesus Christ, Vicar – The Pope; b) population – 1.21 billion in 201 countries; c) administration – Theocracy; governing principle – subsidiarity; threefold doctrinal superstructure – Scripture/Tradition/Magisterium

          • sonny says:

            5.1. Tentative conclusion: This might explain why there are so many thieves in Congress and the public service.
            5.2. Actually, from the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Philippines and India are tied in rank at 94, and China is just a little bit higher at rank 80.
            5.3. Final conclusion: Most people are religious, by faith and by practice (prayers and rites), but they are not spiritual in practice (daily action).

            Edgar, I agree with 5.1 with the proviso that malefactors are those who disobey their faith-beliefs. I would suggest this personal credo: when one codifies his spirituality, it becomes his religion; when one practices his religion it is his spirituality.

            • edgar lores says:


              I agree with your formulation of your personal credo. You are saying that, as a practitioner, religion (the code) and spirituality (the practice) should ideally overlap 100%.

              We know in reality they don’t. Many believe in Jesus, but do not follow Him. The claimed public credo (the code) is inconsistent with the personal credo (the practice). And this is true not only of the senators but also some of the clergy.

              Is this a subjective perception? Perhaps not, in the sense that Francis himself has, implicitly or explicitly, made the same observation that the Church has gone astray as he attempts to refocus the institution.

              This must be difficult times for you and those like you who live and breathe the Faith. For someone like me who has no religion (and, therefore, no Faith), I am forced to practice my spirituality daily. There is no distinction between spirituality and living. Instead of asking, “What would Jesus do?”, I ask “What is the right thing to do now?” I act as I am moved by the spirit within. It is a non-formulaic approach to life and I find it makes me alive to the moment. It’s not all serious; I do a lot of silly things. The spirit has a sense of humor.

              • sonny says:

                “This must be difficult times for you and those like you who live and breathe the Faith. For someone like me who has no religion (and, therefore, no Faith), I am forced to practice my spirituality daily…”

                Well perceived, Edgar. This reminds me how so similar an individual’s internal struggle is to physical systems that have to obey physical laws of nature, viz. the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Whether one conforms to a Faith-filled life configuration or otherwise, one must infuse an externally sourced energy to maintain that configuration; water must employ outside energy to achieve crystalinity

  2. Micha says:

    I am wondering how long will the Chinese experiment in economic schizophrenia last. A free market capitalism stage-managed by communist politburo seemed unthinkable but pulled it off they did. Is it sustainable? Could they build a world dominating empire based on that model?

    Highly unlikely, methinks.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, and when they offend their neighbors by grabbing their territory, one must wonder if they are using this whole strategy as a way to rally their multi-faceted and argumentative nation into one cause, and also add a reason to squelch any protest as unpatriotic. It is the pattern of the tyrannical. The Philippines is cast as an evil nation when she absolutely is not. I am relieved that the US seems to be trying to add in a little “reality” to their blustering self-justifications. All the great minds in China these days apparently can’t figure out why the U.S. is tilting toward the Philippines. Or at least, those who have any influence on policy cannot. Or dare not.

    • edgar lores says:

      The disorganized schizophrenia of China will last as long as the catatonic schizophrenia of democracy-capitalism will.

      – Democratic governments are frozen in gridlock – in the US, in Australia, and in the Philippines.
      – There is no long-term future planning. Future planning is tied to short election cycles.
      – The role of opposition is to mindlessly oppose legislation and not to refine it.
      – Incoming administrations undo the work of previous administrations in the name of “mandates”.
      – Rent-seeking in the form of lobbying protect vested interests.
      – In the Philippines, the influence of religion on electoral outcomes and public policy persists to a great degree.
      – In the Philippines, bureaucracy is a millstone around the neck of citizens and entrepreneurs.
      – Greater social stratification rather than social justice is engendered because of left-right ideologies, the favoring of the 1%, and the monarchism of the conservatives.
      – Idiots with personalities who have money or who are backed by money are voted into office. then the idiots steal public money.
      – Officials are elected into office based on a minority of the voting population, either because of low voting participation or the presence of too many candidates. (This is not true in Australia as voting is compulsory and preferences are redistributed until a simple majority is obtained.) In America, disenfranchisement is actively pursued.

      • Joe America says:

        I presume Micha will pop back in with a response, but your delineation was too rich to ignore.

        What you say is true, there is no perfect model of governance, and some of the better forms (Singapore) are not at all like other better forms (Canada). The interesting thing, though, as I reflect on your itemized list of defects, is that we are all on a path to somewhere, and therefore should find a certain pleasure at that, and reflection that it is the path and not the end that counts. The American path is negative, right now, but if you look back, you can see that there have always been wobbles, and the beauty of the democratic form is the ability of the great middle to pull the extremes back, so they can then wobble the other direction. Now you have to have a great middle for that to happen, and the Philippines does not yet have that. China, interestingly enough, is developing a great middle, but it is rather demanding, as are all the people below who believe it is the state’s accountability to them to raise their standard of living, and not their own accountability. There seems to be a great deal of impatience from below that is driving the upper echelon leaders to become even more autocratic and perhaps even desperate. Well, there is not much corrective wobble to that, other than eventual disintegration, so if it were a horse race, my money would be on America.

        China is now showing certain limitations in her brand of schizophrenia as she tries to deploy autocratic control to the greater world, which just ain’t a gonna happen, because the spirit of mankind is stronger than the spirit of power for power’s sake. The Chinese and American defense people were gunning for each other in their meeting yesterday and I think bigger guns are in the offing. China seems to be getting more insistent that China is correct in all matters and less respectful of others. My guess is that Secretary Hagel will return to the U.S. and report to President Obama: “Boss, we have a problem. Two added missile ships are not a big enough, fast enough pivot.”

        In other words, China is driving the U.S. into active defense of the Philippines. The Philippine EEZ is becoming a red line, I think.

  3. manuel buencamino says:

    History shows that self-justification is the morality of all empires and would-be empires …including religions that seek dominance. As Thucydides said, “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that is true. The blindness toward the motivations of others is stunning to me. That China can’t seem to figure out why a nation would be upset with her warships parked near their beaches keeping fishermen from gathering food and having a livelihood. I think the Philippines is not weak in this engagement, if the will to fight is there. I read an excellent article by Walden Bello on the subject, discussing, among other fine points, the “tyranny of distance”, basically that China has a problem logistically operating so far from home.

      It is also strength when all political persuasions rally behind the constructive approach of the ITLOS filing. I must say, too, the Philippines hired a very impressive set of people to represent her case. So the nation Philippines seems to be working right on this one.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. I was wondering what Barry Humphries was doing on a post on China. I gather this is from the musical “Shock Treatment”.
    1.1. Who is administering?
    1.2. And to whom is it being administered? Certainly, not the Philippines.

    2. I had a look at the Social Progress Index, and the Philippines (57) ranks above China (91).
    2.1. In the graphic, the Philippines is over the median line with an overall index score of 65.86.
    2.1.1. Both the Foundations of Wellbeing (69.7) and Basic Human Needs (66.76) scores are slightly to the right of the overall score.
    2.1.2. But the Opportunity score (61.63) is slightly to the left of the median.

    2.2. China is below the median line, with an overall index score of (58.67), a difference of -7 points compared to the Philippines.
    2.2.1. Its Basic Human Needs score (73.02) is higher than that of the Philippines (66.76) by 6 points, but its Foundations of Wellbeing score (63.78) is slightly below that of the Philippines (66.76) by 3 points.
    2.2.2. Significantly, its Opportunity score (39.21) is woeful, a full 22 points behind that of the Philippines.

    2.3. To summarize:
    2.3.1. China as a country provides for basic human needs – food, water, clothing, shelter and personal safety – FAIRLY better than the Philippines. A lot of Filipinos go hungry and are poorly sheltered.
    2.3.2. The Philippines provides for higher human needs – in terms of access to basic knowledge; access to information and communications; health and wellness; and ecosystem sustainability – SLIGHTLY better than China. We have Google and Bing, they have Baidu.
    2.3.3. The Philippines provides for the highest human needs – rights, freedom, inclusion and access to advanced education – FAR, FAR better than China. This is not at all surprising. But don’t pat your back, Philippines, because you are just considered a PARTLY free country.

    3. The “morality of self-justification” that JoeAm advances is based, I think, on China’s cognitive bias of “illusory superiority” or the superiority bias.
    3.1. The Chinese are racists. (Is this a racist statement?) This can be seen in their discrimination against the Uighur and Tibetan peoples. In contrast, Filipinos only discriminate against darker-skinned people which, incidentally, the Chinese also do.
    3.2. The Chinese have a far more rigid hierarchical society than that of the Philippines, family-wise and state-wise. Family wise, you have ancestor worship, authoritarian parents, first son, etc. State-wise, you have the dynasties of old stretching all the way from the Before the Common era (2852 BCE) to the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), and to the current centralized one-party system. China is Methuselah; the Philippines is a new-born babe. Chopsticks were invented as early as the Shang dynasty (1776-1122 BCE) long before Magellan set sail and was struck by a bamboo chopsti… er, spear in 1521.

    3.2.1. China has had more than 550 emperors. The Philippines has had only one – Florencio Intrencherado (1871 – 1935).

    3.3. The superiority bias, of course, is a defence mechanism that finds its roots in the lack of self-esteem, as JoeAm puts it, or in the feelings of inferiority. Sounds familiar? Yes, Filipinos also suffer from the same feelings of inferiority, but our corresponding superiority bias is less pronounced and our inferiority bias is more pronounced. One might say that our inferiority-superiority range occupies a lower spectrum.
    3.3.1. Do Filipinos play the bully? I would say not as individuals but as a group (?). We find safety in numbers. Like PMA cadets in an Honor Committee.
    3.3.2. The Chinese citizen “trembles and obeys”. The Filipino merely shakes – not out of fear but to shake out his wallet to offer a bribe – and does not obey.

    3.4. A conjunctive of the superiority bias is the need to inflict humiliation.
    3.4.1. It must be galling for China that the Philippines’s refuses to kowtow to Honk Kong (Luneta incident), Taipei (fisherman’s death incident), and Beijing (conflicting sea claims). The Philippines’ refusal to be humiliated must strike a Goliath-to-David respect… if not a sliver of fear.

    4. It has been noted in this blog that the Chinese have a long time horizon in contrast to the Filipino’s short time horizon. We cannot wait for long payoffs and suffer from present bias or hyperbolic discounting. Filipinos love quickies. Yes, we do.

    5. I have often wondered: civilizations, countries and rulers build monuments and memorials to religion (The Pantheon), rulers (The Pyramids), heroes (Rizal Monument), events (EDSA Shrine) and to love (The Taj Mahal). What does China build? The Great Wall. This is a monument to fear, to monumental fear.

    • Joe America says:

      1. The photo was simply meant to connect with the last word of the post and reflect a certain lunacy evident in the Chinese ways.

      2. Interesting comparison. The Philippines is a quality nation, it seems to me, setting aside wretched poverty (a result of past actions that remain uncorrected today) and a whole bunch of big shot crooks (something that is being cleaned up nicely for now). China is a conflicted mess more divided than even the chopped up (oops, “diverse”) Philippines.

      3. Fascinating comparison. 3.4 is powerful, and causes me to be very clear about what happens when powerful nations ignite a combination of racism and a need to humiliate in wartime policies. China is clearly treading on that line, as we witnessed in Malaysia with the outlandish and out-of-control Chinese attacks on Malaysian officials. More on that next week.

      4. I wonder if China is really being long term here. I think they see that the completion of acquiring all seas up to the first island chain is within reach. They only need move the Philippines back a notch, then set up their military and drilling camps.

      5. Good question. I think maybe that huge dam is more their current symbol, or the aircraft carrier. The religion is superstition of extreme reach and faith.

      • edgar lores says:

        5. The Three Gorges Dam, which is becoming an environmental disaster – is just another great wall. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          I think maybe feng shui is the dominant religion, and it has not one structure for worship, but immerses the teeming billions in a host of commandments for well-being.

    • JM says:

      Interesting read. Didn’t know about Florencio Intrencherado lol. Spot on on Filipino’s short time horizion.

  5. China justifies its behavior of late that she is only taking back what is rightfully hers historically. Pro-China pundits are backing this claim. It is said that China was poor before and does not have the prerequisite economic and military might to do so. Now that she has the money and muscle to claim its sovereign lands (rocks, corrals, seas, what-have-you) she is doing it. It is not bullying, rather she is firmly asserting her rights, they say.

    My thought on that: China has yet to conclusively prove that she owns what she claims are her territories. That is for the legal, geologic/geographic and historical experts to prove now that the Philippines lodged its memorial with UNCLOS tribunal. She wants bilateral negotiations because she thinks she can overpower the other party to give into what she wants.

    I’d say China is a teenager whose frontal lobe is not yet fully wired. Her brain waves mimics those of a schizophrenic. She thinks the world revolves around her. She throws tantrums when she does not get what she wants. She demands aggressively. She is always right and the other party to blame. She has yet to achieve emotional intelligence. She is yet to learn that soft power yields better results than a big stick.

    China’s economy is slowing down. Her export driven economy is not sustainable. Her informal and shadow banking operations are weighing her down. Her infrastructure investments are not yielding desired results. Lots of roads to nowhere, housing structures that not a lot of chinese could afford, empty factories that foreign entities vacated…

    • Joe America says:

      Zing zing. You have unloosed a set of straight arrows.

      The international laws generally discount history as the basis for ownership because if we track back far enough, Africa owns us all because that is where original man derived. And the American Indians would be sitting in the White House. Plus,the concept of land ownership did not even exist back in those days, so what’s to claim? Finally, Viet Nam has also compiled a very detailed history of her ownership of the seas, so whose record are we to believe?

      The problem is the underdeveloped frontal lobe, and China’s incapacity to discover that her health and wealth can develop better in a peaceful world than one where she is aggravating the rest of Asia, the countries that buy her products. Imperialism is dead, but China did not hear the message.

  6. Micha says:

    “Is there guilt at the way it was done or something? Some sense that stealing the commercial secrets of others was bad, and therefore we are bad people?”

    Yes, that and more.

    What we are seeing in China is the triumph of global plutocratic movement. When GE, General Motors, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart and other Western corporate giants descended on Chinese coast to exploit its cheap labor force, it did so with the explicit approval and connivance of the Communist party bosses – the supposed guardians of the proles.

    The selling of the communist soul to the devil was not accidental. The Faustian bargain was consummated willfully by the Chinese version of corrupt plutocracy answering the siren song of globalization. This ideological disconnect may be the source of its collective guilt.

    • Joe America says:

      Systemic corruption is really an economy of its own, politics on steroids, the wheeling and dealing of power and favor for personal advantage. The Philippines is half corrupt. China completely.

      You make a good case for collective guilt. Plus, in the modern world, Chinese leaders can fly about and see the development of cities in the U.S., then return to their own smog-ridden metropolis and throw cheaply made plates against the wall because they, the denizens of the center of the world, are behind all those heathens.

  7. Micha says:

    In a sense, all this bullying and provocations of its neighbors is a hat trick – a diversion employed by the Chinese ruling plutocrats to hide from its own citizens the enormous scandal of discrepancy in wealth distribution.

    In this age of globalization, conflicts between nation-states may have diminished primacy (but not value) from the point of view of the global oligarch. The real struggle is class struggle.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, very good. That’s what makes things make sense, of why the Chinese, who are intelligent, can relentlessly try to play the rest of the world for fools. It is a purposeful, intentional trick, elegant in its performance. The lunacy is the failure to recognize that, in the end, China loses big time. We all do.

      The key question seems to be will China implode or explode? I’d say chop her up into about 20 nations, either way. She’s too big, too complex, to control.

      • Micha says:

        Yes, in the hypothetical event that those Western companies decide to pull out its operations from the mainland, how will the Chinese economy perform?

        To answer that, it would seem, is to uncover the motivations of their relentless effort to steal corporate and technological secrets from the West.

    • edgar lores says:

      For me, the real struggle is with I, me, and myself. Like I want to get up but my body wants to sleep. I want to eat more of that yummy dessert but my tummy says, “I’m full.” I want to finish this exciting book I’m reading (“Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) but my eyes drift off into sleep. 😉

      • Micha says:

        Thomas Piketty’s “Capital In The 21st Century” is a boring but important book so I’m having a triple dose of caffeine just to get through the second page.

  8. Geng says:

    One thing I’d like to add is, their leaders intentionally forgot Confucius and his words about fairness: that what you do not want to yourself, do not do to others.
    I’m wondering what China would do if we or any other small nation beside her.would do the same bullying to claim territory on her shorelines.
    And I can’t help but wonder why they could not do to Japan what they had been doing to the Philippines when they are both laying claims to an island that Japan occupies. Could it be called selective bullying because the Chinese know that they are no match to Japan in a modern warfare?

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, the Philippines is probably considered by China to be the easiest “take”, but the U.S. may be giving them some hesitation with the latest remarks from U.S. State and Defense officials backing the Philippine legal filing and warning China not to be confrontational. I hope so.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      China is actually building Confucian Centers around the world as part of its soft power diplomacy. Or is it part of their “Do what I project but be blind to what I do” philosophy?

  9. wjarko says:

    On a different note, and in addition to the points already pointed out by the author and commenters; China may just be taking cue from its ‘mentor’ and role model, Russia.

    It may not be as evident today, but I believe we are entering a new era of expansionism. It seems that neo-colonialism is not working as well for the post-communist countries as it is for western countries which have honed its tools well through the years

    Russia’s annexation of parts of Georgia a few years ago and its recent move in Crimea not only demonstrates to the China that it can get away with it, but proves to the world militaristic expansionism and antagonism is still a powerful tool to project a nation’s stature to the world.

    The only problem in China’s case is that its claims are based on historical accounts, in addition to the fact that the territories it claims are uninhabited and with multiple claimants; unlike Russia, which operated under the guise of and behest seperatist movements in Georgia and Crimea.

    It is important that we as country not only condemn this kind of behavior, we must enjoin the UN, ASEAN, and other countries to do the same.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, it was disturbing when Russia took the Crimea. It was of considerable relief reading of the strong statements coming from the U.S. in support of peace in Asian seas, backing the Philippine ITLOS filing, and advocating for “no more provocations”. It was odd that the U.S. imposed the most severe sanctions against Russia as European Union states could not get their act together, forcefully, because they are so dependent on Russia for economic well-being and resources. It is clear that the U.S., in withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, has not dropped out of her global peacemaking role. I hope America is up to warmaking, too, if China continues her belligerent ways. The EEZ is Philippine economic territory. I’m confident that will be the reading of the ITLOS court because history is such a weak argument. Those rocks will be declared by the court to be a part of the sea, not land, as they are fundamentally uninhabitable.. Then the Philippines will have a case to make to China: get off our property, you are stealing our resources and we are entitled to defend our territory from thieves. “Defend” of course is the trigger for U.S. support. Fascinating drama. Dangerous games.

  10. Geng says:

    If China will keep on justifying that ancient maps of China was their basis for claiming the sea that divides them from the Philippines, why didn’t they present such evidence(s) when they signed the UNCLOS? Was it because there was no China as big as it is now?…that there were so many empires before the Communists annexed them one by one into one big country and even conquered Tibet and other small helpless countries around them whose inhabitants did not consider themselves Chinese?

    • Joe America says:

      China to me is like Estrada, walking head high and using information that suits him for his own aims and ignoring facts that are contrary to his position, and condemning anyone who would raise those facts. You can’t trust either one of them. China is a huge patchwork of subordinate states and what gets put together can easily be ripped asunder. If China wants to use Russia as an example, she should not study the Crimea, but the breakup of the Soviet Union.

  11. andrew lim says:

    Just a little diversion. The RH law got upheld, with minor provisions struck down.

    How we feel? Pharrell’s “Happy”.

    • Joe America says:

      It is good that reason won over an opposition that was spreading scare stories, and it is a step forward for the Philippines, and a big step for health and choice for adult women across the Philippines. Wonderful video. Shot in Los Angeles, most downtown. Made me a tad homesick. Good to see Magic Johnson looking chubby and healthy. JoeAm was there, too, the guy in the blue shirt in the street at 1:22.

    • edgar lores says:

      Wonderful news. Good to get here.

  12. David Murphy says:

    Joe, I think the primary problem here is that few people understand Chinese diplomatic language. Therefore I have thoughtfully and generously provided the following translation of the Chinese Embassy’s position paper issued in response to the Philippines filing of the Memorial to UNCLOS. In the interest of brevity I have included only the topic headings and sometimes a first line of the text. The full text may be accessed at

    1. The Philippines’ initiation of and push for international arbitration has undermined China-Philippines relations.
    Translation: We know that our claims to the territories included in our famous dash-lined map are completely fabricated and almost certainly will not be accepted by international governing bodies. Therefore any attempts to use established means of arbitration are inimical to the welfare of the Chinese government and of its people.

    2. Why does China not accept the arbitration?
    First, China is committed to resolving its disputes with the Philippines through bilateral negotiations.
    Translation: We know that our claims will not be upheld on review by impartial international governing bodies. Therefore we insist on bilateral negotiations in which we can use our superior resources to intimidate, coerce, confuse, entice, overwhelm, bribe, suborn, and otherwise gain advantages over a smaller and weaker country. Moreover, after such a bilateral agreement has been reached we can later ignore the specifics or change the terms of the agreement or re-interpret them in ways that were not initially intended. Since this would be a bilateral agreement only, international agencies would have no authority to intervene or enforce the terms of the agreement. And then we can use the same technique individually on each of the other small, weak countries involved in the dispute.

    3. It is China’s sincere wish that the disputes between China and the Philippines will be settled through bilateral negotiations.
    Translation: Look, there’s a lot at stake here. The amount of resources on the seabed are staggering and we’ve got to have something to keep our economy going. Besides, there is historical precedence for our actions. This is the biggest landgrab since Columbus claimed all of South America for the Queen of Portugal and far exceeds the United States putting the American Indians on reservations.

    4. China’s Basic Position on the Issue of the South China Sea
    Translation: We want it; it’s ours.

    5. The Nature of China-Philippines Disputes in the South China Sea
    Translation: We want it, therefore it’s ours.

    6. The Consensus between China and the Philippines on the South China Sea Issue
    Translation: We almost had you back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s but you got away.

    7. The Issue of Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal)
    Translation: We want it; it’s ours.

    8. The Issue of Ren’ai Reef (Second Thomas Shoal)
    Translation: We want it; etc.

    9. Freedom and Safety of Navigation
    Translation: We want the sea, the islands, the resources under the sea and the air above it. Once we have it, we might let you use it if you agree to whatever other irrational demands we might make.

    10. China is Committed to a South China Sea of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation
    Translation: As long as we get everything we want or might want in the future.

    So you see, Joe, it’s not hard to appreciate the position of the Chinese. You just have to read between the lines.

    • Joe America says:

      Ahahaha, brilliant translation, David. It is all crystal clear now. And Google translate has a way to go before it can do such refined work, so I am also comforted to know we still have a year or two left of man’s supremacy over machine. I particularly enjoyed this line:

      “Therefore we insist on bilateral negotiations in which we can use our superior resources to intimidate, coerce, confuse, entice, overwhelm, bribe, suborn, and otherwise gain advantages over a smaller and weaker country.”

      Anyone who can whip “suborn” into perfect context like that is all right in my book.

  13. ikalwewe says:

    China’s actions will come back and bite it in the ass. I believe their growth is not sustainable, it will run out of steam, especially in this world where consumers are becoming more and more informed, clamoring against worker exploitation, mass productions and non-sustainable industries. When it does, all the countries subject to their bullying should band together and fight the “dragon”. It is only a matter of time before it collapses under its own weight.

    Behind the mask, I think China is pretty worried about their future, 1 billion + mouths to feed and counting. Resources are running low- they’ve overfished their coastal regions, they are facing water scarcity and energy crisis. Which is why China has been coveting the island countries- there is just so much more in these waters than tuna and whales and seaweed-oil,natural gas,sand, minerals. China has its eyes on its two neighbors: Japan and the Philippines. Japan can and will fight back, as per their constitution eg you cross the line and we have all the excuses to pulverize you. Not to mention, there are American bases here- one at Okinawa at that! Which leaves the Philippines: it is the weakest link, the most vulnerable nation, whose territories are enticing and open and literally up for grabs. China will prolong this issue and while at it, continue to exploit the area as much as they can. When they’ve exploited the area, maybe they will sit down and talk. For the meantime, it is in their best interest to NOT arrive at any solutions.

    • Joe America says:

      That is the amazing thing, isn’t it? So fragile, so internally fraught with passionate argument, and absolutely zero recognition that the only good path forward is to join the world rather than conquer it. I agree with you. I think she wants to stake a claim to seas and rocks from which she will never get dislodged because she has crept in during the dark of night and no one is willing to shoot to defend the rocks. And maybe that is best . . . I don’t think China will get much oil from Philippine seas, though, so her patience better be very enduring.

  14. David Murphy says:

    Joe, there’s one area that no one seems to have commented on yet and that’s China’s environmental record. They’ve already polluted their air and rivers and they’re taken advantage of their superior forces to pillage the endangered species of the areas that they are claiming. (I keep wondering about the lack of response from Greenpeace and the other rapid environmentalist groups; lack of response unless you count total silence as a response.) This is particularly frustrating because the Filipino fishermen were being remarkably responsible in their use of the resources. Segue to a future in which the Chinese are mining the seabed and drilling for oil. What will be the fate of the pristine beaches of the Philippines? It’s a nightmare to contemplate. From an ecological standpoint their claims should be rejected absolutely solely on the grounds the Chinese have demonstrated that they lack the responsibility to safeguard the future of the environment and of the creatures who live in it.

    • edgar lores says:

      Just two notes:

      1. One of the criteria of the Foundations of Wellbeing in the Social Progress Index is “Ecosystem Sustainablility”. In this category, China scores slightly below the Philippines.
      2. The Three Gorges Dam, as mentioned, is turning out – or may be turning out – to be an environmental disaster.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.