The elegance of China’s island strategy

China-Scarborough-Shoal philnews

Chinese coast guard ship of the type that chased Filipino fishermen away from Panatag Shoal off the coast of Luzon [Photo credit philnews]

It was reported by US intelligence services that China is actively building Coast Guard ships. It is likely that these ships will be deployed to the reclaimed “islands” that formalize China’s “sovereign domestic territory” in the South China Sea. That territory includes contested outposts within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

By using Coast Guard ships, China accomplishes several important objectives:

  1. The primary criticism of “militarization” of the sea lanes is neutralized.
  2. Very likely China will allow free passage of commercial and military ships through these seas, but will not allow military exercises or activities (such as re-supply of the Philippine outpost at Ayungin Shoal).
  3. The islands will be formally incorporated as a part of the civilian territory of China, meaning that any forceful incursions would be considered offensive acts of war against China, justifying a military response.
  4. Commercial oil and mineral extractions, and fishing, would be pursued forthrightly as soon as civilian Coast Guard protections are adequate.

Check mate?

Not really. It means the Philippines would have to use civilian forces to protect her interests, or, upon a favorable ruling by ITLOS, file court action and/or secure US assistance to evict foreign occupants from Philippine territory.

We are all allowed our Jack Ryan imaginations (Google the late American author Tom Clancy):

Myself, I would start running a tab on financial damages being incurred by the Philippines by China’s willful disregard of Philippine rights and resultant damages to the natural sea environment (reefs, corals and depletion of seas). If oil or mineral extractions are begun by China, add them to the tab.

I’d also develop a guerrilla civilian fighting force. Filipinos have lots of capable civilians to be employed and deployed to jobs in the sea. In some parts of the land, they are called rebels, in others, fishermen with an attitude and a six-pack of dynamite. But it is not necessary to nit pick about names.


185 Responses to “The elegance of China’s island strategy”
  1. Bert says:

    I will play the role of a hawk here. The best way to deal with China’s abusive moves in the West Philippine Sea is for the Philippine Navy and Air Force to sink one Chinese Coastguard ship operating within the area then drop a number of bombs on Chinese reclamation being undertaken there. This move is not intended to win a war with China but to test US, Japan even Australian’s response in the event of a Philippine=China military skirmishes.

    This way the Philippine government can actually gauge how serious are those countries commitments to defense treaties between friendly countries without which any posturing by our government against those abuses by the Chinese are just that, posturing, without much effect.

    Without a serious effort by the US government to come to our aid in terms of military response, we might as well give up the fight and let the Chinese be with their 9 dash line. Wala namang mangyayari sa puro yabang lang, wala naman sa gawa.

    • NHerrera says:

      Daring and imaginative. However, it sounds somewhat Tom Clancyish to me. Consequences — benefits versus loses. But will the test on our allies to make true their coming to our aid not risky considering that they may not come to our aid? US risk analysis — especially with Senators and Congressmen entering the fray may cloud the response. The debate may center on the provocation coming from the Philippines, never mind that for months, years the Chinese were the ones constantly provoking with its island bases construction.

    • Joe America says:

      That scenario works best with a favorable ITLOS ruling behind the Philippines, and after a formal eviction notice delivered to China after that ruling. The ITLOS ruling would also give the US a legal basis for assisting.

      • NHerrera says:

        On that basis, and with appropriate plan and execution with all necessary sides understanding the plan — as against the Mamasapano type of planning and execution — Bert’s idea may just work. Then JoeAm, you can write the dramatized story in a novel. It will be a best seller. You have one buyer in me.

      • HighFive says:

        JUST my OPINION. I think there is already a legal basis regardless of favorable ruling from ITLOS. It occurred already when the United Nations Organization ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty in 1982.
        The the signatures affixed on the paper by Philippine government on the MDA Treaty also serve as the basis of US participation . The principle of Freedom Of Navigation is the most valid reason that gives US the right to protect the shipping route of South China Sea where trillions of dollars in bilateral annual trade…from cnbc news:”There are no definitive government estimates about the amount of global trade passing through the South China Sea, but the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimated that 8.4 billion tons—or about half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage—passed through the region in 2010.
        The U.S. Commerce Department estimated that the United States exported $79 billion in goods to the countries around the South China Sea in 2013, and imported $127 billion from them that year. Including goods simply passing through, Navy Adm. Robert Willard estimated in 2011 that the region accounts for $5.3 trillion in bilateral annual trade—of which $1.2 trillion is U.S. trade”.

        • Joe America says:

          Most interesting, HighFive. The day China tries to block US commerce is the day China steps over a red line. I don’t think they will do that. They will proceed with purpose, as they are now doing, to extract oil and minerals from the South China Sea. The will isolate friction in one-on-one spats, but never push much beyond where they are now.

    • This is stupid. This is somewhat similar to Chinese thinking that reclaiming the islands lost to Japan will not cause wars. At least in my example the aggressor is the stronger nation whilst being the aggressor in our case would simply mean we would give them the opening to annex us.

      No insults meant but the initial emotional reaction I got just has to be said.

      peace bert.

    • Ma Ru says:

      Was thinking along those same lines, however I didn’t go as far as sink some one them but rather to protect our territory. That way they now we backed our words with action. And if an incident do occur then we’ll know the answer to those commitments.

      But yeah sinking can work, done by of course unmarked third parties pirates if you will..

    • Payutenyo DAgimas says:

      no ships no jets how could you sink even just one?

      and why do you think US will come for Philippines defense? always think about profits. do us companies profit if America goes to war with china? remember, China is a 1.2B people market. always think about that. the only way US will think about aiding the Philippines is when there is a very strong lobby in US politics like what the Jews are doing

      the only way to deter China or make them think twice is to buy modern jet fighters, frigates and submarines

      but then our politicians instead of funding our defense requirements, they funded their pockets thru the non profits of napoles

      • Joe America says:

        America has different forces in play, as well as the Philippines. The US is bound by treaty to assist the Philippines if land or ships are attacked. That assistance is undefined, but one of the forces is that Americans are tired of their young people dying in foreign lands. That’s why drones are used in the hills of Pakistan rather than troops. The US will for sure protect her own interests, which is to keep the sea lanes open. Her profit motive drives that military position.

        Corruption is indeed a problem, but so is the thin economy and a host of demands. Look at what is underfunded. Everything. Corruption is a part of that, but so is the culture of impunity that restrains competition, sovereignty that is translated into isolationism, and poor decisions by prior administrations.

        There is no foundation for a massive military build-up, and it would be rather nonsensical, because China could wipe it out in a day.

        • Payutenyo DAgimas says:

          I submit US will try as much as possible to stay away from these disputed islands/reefs whether in the Senkakus or Spratlys unless the Chinese are too dumb to restrict shipping lanes or encroach some more on the 12-mile territorial sea

          I also submit that a respectable navy could have deterred the Chinese in reclaiming reefs if RP has something like 8 modern frigates patrolling the west phil sea with air cover provided by maybe 4 squardrons of jets. remember the tyranny of distance?

          of course in a shooting war, China will always win by sheer number of ships they could deploy

          its an expensive undertaking but if only Ramos and the Congress (especially those who rejected the renewal treaty in 1992) had a foresight to at least buy 1 frigate every year since they rejected the bases treaty, there could be sizeable navy right now

          and to think that in 1995 China seized mischief reef and still they didn’t do anything about the problem

          and I hear Enrile sometime in 2013 (cant remember) telling the people that America wont abandon its former colony. what a BS coming from a former Defense secretary

          I could understand if this pronouncement came from Estrada but Enrile of all people?

          • Joe America says:

            I can’t find much to argue with in your assessment, Payutenyo. And I agree China would not be so foolish as to provoke the US. What is interesting is that the recent statements coming from the US opposed to China are probably making adventurism on China’s part less likely. I’m thinking of takeover of Pagasa island. So, even without troops or ships here, the US rebalances China’s thinking. But where China is now, she’ll likely remain.

  2. Karl garcia says:

    Let us steal the speed boats of the ASG, our fishermen need all the speed they can have and borrow all the dynamite from all the owners of fishing companies.We could have beaten the Spanish Armada, it was erased from the history books.

    • Karl garcia says:

      This is the very reason why coast guard was removed from the Navy, so no one would claim military attack civilian. Our frigates are useless their fishing fleet can just sink them, because it still has minimum weaponry because we bought it with the weapons removed.

    • Joe America says:

      The navy has a small fleet of missile carrying boats. I’d suggest building a few less highways and a lot more of those boats, and further, develop remote piloting. I think a fleet of about 300 of those could get China off of Panatag Shoal . . . after the favorable ITLOS ruling, of course.

      When China comes roaring in with her military fleet . . . time to dial up the White House. Or better yet, the hawks in Congress.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Not a good idea – see my big posting below. Would be good for US interests but bad for Philippine interests. Build an alliance with Vietnam across the sea against China, keep but balance out the alliance with the United States – Macchiavellian statecraft.

        Take this coming from a nerd who got into bad fixes with gangsters and played them out against each other to neutralize them, at least get them out of my zone of interest.

        Never needed to call any cops or rat out on anyone, even though it was good to know the cops and the law are stable and that helped me because the gangsters did not dare go too far and my crazy game worked as a result, they having legal businesses to protect.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          The law and the cops were the wall behind me that protected me, remembering a lesson of my kumpadre and friend in difficult times, a former Manila cop hailing from Malabon who taught me some arnis de mano and a lot of things in life:

          Kung may labanan, ang pader kaibigan mo, dahil walang kalaban sa likod mo.. But then you have to make sure the wall stays a wall, a rescuer can also become a new persecutor and you remain a victim in the Karpman drama triangle.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Which is why I never involved the cops and the law in my difficult game against gangsters. Never looked for real evidence, because I would be forced to divulge it. Never got involved in anything illegal inspite of the temptation to do so. Got out clean. And respected.

            • Joe America says:

              I fear you are babbling free steam. I can’t keep up with your comments.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                No I’m not. This stuff is very real. Joe I wish it was not. Relatively small stuff actually and due to much foolishness on my part. But I learned a lot of lessons from it.

                Sorry if I type fast and think fast, have to keep myself reined in sometimes. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          So you would concede the islands to China? I don’t see Vietnamese coming to die for the Philippines. Americans would. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m reading the tea leaves in a bowl mixed by Congressional Hawks who are itching to demonstrate US muscle. They think Obama is a nerd.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            The claim to the islands was first made by Marcos as far as I can remember. War at this point is absolutely crazy and makes even less sense than war in Mindanao.

            Vietnam also has interests, I would rather share exploitation of the islands with them than with the Chinese. In fact they are also claiming a part of that area as far as I know. Other claimants are Malaysia and Brunei but they are far away. This is Realpolitik.

      • karl garcia says:

        Since we are committed to the planes and the frigates might as wel make most out of it. The next batch should not be pricey but many like patrol crafts,smaller fighting vessels,helicopters, missile defense system,drones. We must do an environmentl scan, what happened to the tri lateral meeting with Japan,South Korea anf China. What happened to the last ASEAN plus three meeting. What happened to EDCA, then we follow up on ITLOS and UNCLOS.

        • I think the concentration should be drones both in sea and in the air. This makes small vessels the new aircraft carriers because the new aircraft of choice is the drone.

          Missile defense and Missile launch systems I believe is what we have to concentrate on.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            We should buy some copies of Voltes V and Mazinger Z from the Japanese, or produce them in license, even better.

          • karl garcia says:

            Yes Giancarlo, I agree.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Looking at this seriously, you are right. We are talking about Goliath all the time here.

            What did David kill Goliath with – with a manual missile… Powerful small drones coming from Abu Sayyaf type speedboats..

            Don’t exist yet but a few boats like that can hide off the Chinese coasts, OK a few get caught but just one of them with a good payload aimed at Hong Kong.. Just gotta make sure our OFWs leave on time when that happens.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Because that will make the Hong Kong bus massacre of 2010 look like a barrio fiesta.

              But that kind of defense should be readied in case China invades Philippine core territory.

              The Spratley islands are not yet really worth a war, or killing innocent people at this point.

          • Joe America says:

            I like your thinking. Man, 7,000 islands, lots of places to hide missile batteries. I’ve always thought ships were really stupid fighting machines. Submarines have some character but I’m claustrophobic. Tanks are coffins. Artillery is best, unless you are stuck with being a forward observer, because you wear the big sign on your helmet that says “shoot me first”.

      • HighFive says:

        beautiful suggestion.

      • Ma Ru says:

        As an archipelago our military strength should be in the navy and air-force. Our boat building industry is quite impressive. We can have them boats built in our own country and a contractor to weaponize them. The government may even jumpstart an industry. I hear the UK Royal Navy have some of their small aluminum boats built here, of course without the weapons yet.

    • karl garcia says:

      We should consider why we are always given the run around by asg and other smugglers and thieves. Meaning Coast Guard, PNP Maritime and Customs must also be given budgetary support. Downside less money for education. Combine Police,AFP,Coast guard budget, that already exceeds education. That is why you separate PNP and Coast Guard from the AFP, to make it appear that education is top priority.

  3. Vicara says:

    One can be hopeful about ITLOS, but not count on it either. Looking ahead then, it makes sense to further strengthen the civilian PNP-SAF. Someone has explained this to the AFP? No more post-Mamasapano sullenness and weepy finger-pointing? Added to those land-based, ah, guerrilla resources you referred to, there are the many Filipino seamen who have worked in the international merchant marine and fishing industry, including those who ply tiny fishing boats all the way to Micronesia and beyond, with skill and devil-may-care bravery. There are competent people in the Coast Guard as well, but one has the impression that the entire fleet consists of a couple of bancas and a dog. (OK, they probably have more than that, but that’s what it SEEMS like.)

    Possibly one of China’s weaknesses is that it despises us without understanding us. They must be baffled that a people so politically feckless, smiley, unruly, soft and disrespectful towards authority (particularly central authority), and so careless about saving face, is second only to China in its GDP growth. Our strengths will be best appreciated at close quarters–tactical creativity, inspired risk-taking, bravura-driven ferocity, etc. The non-delivery of decent government services over successive administrations means people have had to develop a core of self-sufficiency and resourcefulness in order to survive. Some analyst somewhere has pointed out that the average Chinese soldier is of that generation of one-family-one-child “little emperors.” Doted upon, and for that reason maybe not the best fighting force material.

  4. jameboy says:

    The Philippines starting an armed conflict in the disputed islets just to find out the reaction of countries that observing the development there is not only counterproductive but also a very dangerous move that could trigger flash points that may get out of control.

    Military action for prevention of hostile acts or intrusion and for defense is proper but one where we’ll be portrayed as the aggressor would be a no-no for it will only give the Chinese the reason to let go of its itching finger to pull the trigger on us. The Chinese are just waiting for us to take the first move to show others an example of why they should not meddle with the biggest bully in the neighborhood. I dread the idea of us being use as guinea pig.

    The problem on running a tab is that the issue of ownership makes that improbable. Ownership or dominion must first be established to be able to make the intruders liable for future trespasses.

    Guerrillas in the forests, marshes or mountains make for good fighting stance and tactic for there are spaces to hide and camouflage with. But on a plain and clear group of islets? For sure the Chinese would only be happy to engage us on that setting.

    If we can only lure then to come to Mamasapano. 👳

    • Joe America says:

      I agree that reckless is not a good approach. The purpose of running a tab is to make clear that the damages being delivered to the Philippines are tangible. It is theft. Presumably the ITLOS ruling will establish clearly who is responsible for sea territory. The interesting questionsa re:

      1) What if China sets up mining or drilling infrastructure in contested waters before the ITLOS ruling comes down.

      2) If the ITLOS ruling favors China. No problem. The Philippines will respect it.

      3) If the ITLOS ruling favors the Philippines and China respects it, no problem.

      4) If the ITLOS ruling favors the Philippines and China rejects it, then what?

      The Philippines is already being materially damaged because oil/gas drilling initiatives have been halted because of the danger of proceeding.

      • jameboy says:

        4) If the ITLOS ruling favors the Philippines and China rejects it, then what?
        If they submit to the arbitration of the ITLOS, there is no reason for them to reject its ruling. However, we all know that China refuses to participate to arbitration on the issue. As the bully, she wants to control the conversation and wants the other claimants to deal with her directly.

        In terms of duration, everything defends on the bully. If the Chinese decides to submit and abide by international arbitration, well and good, settlement is possible. If not it’s going to be a long process and may entail regular collisions and skirmishes among claimants which is infrequent at present.

        One possible remedy to advance the negotiation is for all the claimants to agree to be co-owners of the the disputed islands. They will equally share with whatever wealth the territory have. Right now it’s a remote possibility because there is no balance of power in the area. 👱

        • Joe America says:

          The shared solution is problematic. The issue is, under whose laws will the agreements be based? One has to choose either China or the Philippines. Catch 22. Neither will concede to the other.

          • jameboy says:

            It’s a remote idea but better than war. It is not a question of whose law because nobody’s law will govern the co-ownership set-up. It will be govern by a law exclusive to anybody’s, ala-BBL, with the U.N.’s blessing and approval.

            • Joe America says:

              I agree that all the bickering is absolutely nonsense. I don’t see why China does not just agree to Philippine laws, buy into developments, purchase the minerals and oil she needs at market rates, and move on. Instead, she invests in stealing the resources (building islands and warships). It is absolutely absurd, but it is China.

  5. OldmaninLA says:

    Hatred, war are destructions!
    Iraq, Afghanistan, USA, all suffered because of destructive emotions, and war, think about it!

    Another example is Philippines and Mindanao, MILF, MNLF. Another is Israel and Palestnian. Isn’t not a perpetual suffering? Killing and bombing.

    The modern approach is dialogue and negotiation. Sit down and discuss what approach is mutually win-win situation. Look at the benefits of good neighbors. Look at macro-view benefit not focus on micro-view of hatred and war. For practical view ask any homeowner with a troublesome next neighbor.

    Currently, Japan and China have ministerial dialogue meeting. Vietnam and China started dialogue talk on peaceful relation. Both acknowledge there is territorial dispute therefore they sit down and dialogue and negotiate.

    Mature diplomacy is the key. Not hate, not war!

    • mercedes santos says:

      HEAR, HEAR !!

    • Joe America says:

      That is the current policy of the Philippine government in pursuing the ITLOS filing, the single authorized arbitration resource for nations with issues about sea rights. China has rejected it. Mature diplomacy is indeed the best approach, but China rejects it.

      What do you recommend the Philippines do if the ITLOS ruling favors the Philippines, but China rejects it? Further assume China starts mining and drilling in Philippine seas.

      How do you proceed with mature diplomacy? One could go through a step of sanctions, but the Philippines has no real economic power over China. China would retaliate, and her sanctions WOULD hurt the Philippines.

      Barak Obama is right. China is using her might to bully smaller nations. Bullies don’t behave rationally.

      • OldmaninLA says:

        Check UNCLOS agreement, both party agree to conciliation else terminated. #3.
        China aim is bilateral dialogue such as with Japan and Vietnam, but Philippines unilaterally file arbitration without both agreement.

        UNCLOS Article 284

        1. A State Party which is a party to a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention may invite the other party or parties to submit the dispute to conciliation in accordance with the procedure under Annex V, section 1, or another conciliation procedure.

        2. If the invitation is accepted and if the parties agree upon the conciliation procedure to be applied, any party may submit the dispute to that procedure.

        3. If the invitation is not accepted or the parties do not agree upon the procedure, the conciliation proceedings shall be deemed to be terminated.

        • Joe America says:

          That is an interesting take on the matter. I provide a link to the ITLOS court in the right column ( and the matter is proceeding in spite of China’s decision to not participate. So the Court itself must believe the case is not terminated. The last press release asks for the Philippines to respond to China’s comments, and the Philippines has done so.

          Let me ask a couple of questions so that I understand your starting position.

          Do you believe the bilateral dialogue with Japan has had or will achieve substantial resolution of conflicting claims?

          Do you believe China is entitled to occupy Panatag Shoal, 198 km from the coast of Luzon, Philippines? If so, on what basis?

          • OldmaninLA says:

            1, Yes, with honest objective of mature diplomacy, with Confucian’s propriety,harmony and wisdom, with moralistic proverbial wisdom which are prudence, understanding, discretion, not pride, not arrogance, not evil, in due time, China and Japan will achieve resolution.

            Japan needs China as much as China needs Japan today.

            2, South China Sea area is the fishing territorial sovereign area by China ( Taiwan and mainland China ) for many centuries, it predates back long before the birth of southeast Asian nations by Spain, Portugal, Dutch, France and England colonialization in 16th century like the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam etc. the dash line was establish in 1947 after the Japanese surrender. Reclaim record where reestablished. Check Wikipedia.

            China shared its navigation right, so with fishing right therefore it was peaceful for a long period until When Philippines navy apprehended Chinese fishermen, China came to protect its subjects. Then trouble started. No wander China offered mutual development benefit to the Philippines but Philippines refused. I suggest check Wiki again.

            The economic distance is not an issue like Catalina island in California very near Mexico. I don’t think UNCLOS can retro the 200 km agreement rules.

            I believe only mature diplomacy dialogue and negotiation is a win-win approach.
            This was the diplomatic offer of China. Check Wiki please.

            China has not occupied or colonized any Southeast Asia nations ever since. Am I right?

            • Joe America says:

              Okay, thanks. So you are an advocate for the Chinese position.

              The historical argument is being made in the ITLOS court. Many nations have claims and histories and it is difficult to sort out primary claim. The nine-dash line has a very weak historical basis and the only nation that recognizes it is China.

              The issue has shifted from fishing to mineral rights. Huge values are at stake. ITLOS was developed to provide clarity on that. The recognized distance for the Exclusive Economic Zone is is 200 nautical miles or 370 kilometers. Panatag shoal is deep within the Philippine EEZ.

              On the basis of established law, it appears that China is today occupying Philippine property.

            • jameboy says:


              If the South China Sea is the ‘fishing territorial sovereign area by China’, what is the ‘mature diplomacy dialogue and negotiation’ for?

              Given those you cited, do you think China owns the disputed territory? 😯

              • Ma Ru says:

                China intends to own it by possession and control. Military might is a potent diplomatic tool.. Everyone else can bark

            • Ric says:

              As noted, you are an advocate for the Chinese position, then.

              However, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that the “South China Sea area is the fishing territorial sovereign area by China for many centuries”. This is utterly incorrect. The South China Sea is an international body of water that does not belong to any single country. Fishermen from ALL the surrounding nations, not just China, have been fishing there for centuries. Or do you seriously believe that Vietnamese, Filipino, or Malay fishermen never fished in the South China Sea historically? When Vietnam’s entire coastline faces that sea?

              As for your point about Chinese fishing activities predating the creation of Southeast Asian countries by the European colonial powers, it’s probably true, but it’s also completely irrelevant. I have noticed that you Chinese love to bring up this argument despite its irrelevance. I think I know why. This argument subtly makes the point that “China is an ancient civilization; the Southeast Asian nations are just upstarts created by European colonizers”. As if the Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Vietnamese peoples just suddenly sprang into existence when Europeans reached these shores. This argument serves only as a subtle insult for Southeast Asian peoples.

              But aside from being irrelevant, it’s also untrue for the most part. The Philippines is the only true colonial creation out of all the countries you listed. There was certainly a Vietnamese state existing before French colonization (you would know since this Vietnamese state defeated the Chinese to gain its independence), and Malacca or Srivijaya could serve as a predecessor state for Malaysia. Majapahit can be considered a predecessor of Indonesia, although Indonesia is a colonial creation in the sense that the Dutch unified a very large territory that used to be several different polities into one country.

              More importantly, even before the nation-state known as the Philippines was created, the inhabitants of the islands that would be known as the Philippines already fished in the South China Sea. Even if they were not known as Filipinos at the time, they were nevertheless the ancestors of today’s Filipinos. The same goes for all the other Southeast Asian nations bordering the SCS. That’s why your line of argument is completely ridiculous, and I’m at a loss as to why the Chinese continue to employ it.

              • Joe America says:

                Thanks for the excellent reading, Ric. The Chinese perhaps deploy such arguments because the argument “we are a superior race and entitled to what we take” does not sell well.

      • HighFive says:

        “China was the Philippines’ No. 1 source of imported goods and its No. 3 export destination in 2013. But the $294-billion Philippine economy depends more on the service industry — such as call centers for Western multinationals — as well as remittances from millions of Filipino workers based overseas, from Dubai to the United States, but not mainland China.”
        Source:LA Times / Philippines making waves over China’s moves in disputed waters 04/04/1
        Does this mean PHL economy is not dependent on China’s economy?

        • Joe America says:

          The Philippine economy is thin and subject to disruptions, thus any punitive moves from China would be damaging. However, the economy is not dependent upon China’s economy. China required its tour operators to stop booking tours to the Philippines about a year ago due to a the murder of some Chinese visitors/residents here locally. It pinched a little, but caused little real problem as the nation continues to build its tourism business. Commercial ties with Japan are building as Japanese manufacturers grow wary about investing in China. The OFW remittances are a rock of stability for the Philippines.

          • HighFive says:

            Thanks Joe. It gave me a better understanding of the situation.

          • HighFive says:

            ‘Punitive and damaging moves’ should not serve as the reason though to stop us from protecting our “maritime economic rights” in which our rightful claim to it has been attested by the representatives of nations that signed the Law of the Sea Treaty in 1982.
            Punitive and damaging moves is nothing compared to the wealth lying underneath the ocean floor right across our doorsteps.

    • jameboy says:

      I don’t know where and what the negotiation is all about. All I know is China claims all the islands in the disputed territory and she has not entertain any kind of negotiation about. There may be an acknowledgement of the issue but there is no negotiation yet.

      This is a different case compared to those mentioned in relation to wars. Nobody wants war. I think the only country who wants it is China.

      • karl garcia says:

        Co ownership will have a problem once a divorce bill will be passed.

      • OldmaninLA says:

        Jameboy.. China offered bilateral dialogue, check internet news and official posting, I think you can check the Embassy in the Philippines,
        Last year, president Aquino and Xi Jinping signify peaceful talk of sea dispute last Nov. 2014 in Beijing during APEC meeting. nothing happen after.

        Inviting US intervention and unilateral UNCLOS arbitration promote animosity which results to untoward negative consequences. As a nation, we should learn mature diplomacy dialogue and negotiation.

        Powerful nations uses small nation as pawns for war then negotiate, like Ukraine,
        Do we want this? Think about it.

        I’m Chinoy-Kastilanoy with many relatives in Philippines. Retired as IT analyst researcher.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          “Inviting US intervention and unilateral UNCLOS arbitration promote animosity which results to untoward negative consequences. As a nation, we should learn mature diplomacy dialogue and negotiation.” Correct. Similar thing happened regarding NAIA3.

          Unilateral arbitration by international courts that are close to US instead of properly negotiating with Germany. Germany is no longer giving export credit guarantees (Hermes) to its companies for Philippine investment, hence only heavyweights like SAP come over.

          “Powerful nations uses small nation as pawns for war then negotiate, like Ukraine,” Correct. A lot of agitation at the Maidan was sponsored by Soros foundations and others. Did not help the Ukrainian cause which I find good, it helped the Russian propaganda.

        • jameboy says:


          China will offer anything to us so long as she dictates the tempo and not submit the issue on international arbitration. Talking one-on-one will yield nothing. Why? We are not equal with China. If ever, the talks would just be a concession where they may grant us some privilege or right or whatever but no ownership. Simply put they will talk to us “as owner” of those islets and listen to what we have to say and if possible will accede to our demand so long as it is not about ownership.

          Look, if China is really interested on peaceful negotiation she would have already submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the ITLOS or UNCLOS and settle the case. Which brings me to the issue of intervention.

          We cannot help it if China will resort to bullying and ignore the call for arbitration. It is only the possibility of intervention that makes China cautious and careful in what she does because she doesn’t want to scandalize the issue and attract other powers to the disputed territory.

          Why remind the small and weak country about “learning mature diplomacy dialogue and negotiation” when it is very clear that we are resorting to legal channels to precisely settle the issue peacefully? I suggest you look at China and see why it refuses to face other claimants in a neutral and formal negotiation. I say that because the “mature diplomacy dialogue and negotiation” you are talking about is what those neutral and formal negotiations are.

          I agree, powerful nations uses small nations as pawns. But in this part of the world, there are no pawns. What we have are weak and small nations being bullied by the strong. 👮

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Macchiavelli once wrote that it is advantageous for weak powers to join together.

            He cited examples from Italian city-states, yet his political wisdom is universal.

            Vietnam and the Philippines could, I wrote it downstairs and link to that above.

            • jameboy says:

              Macchiavelli once wrote that it is advantageous for weak powers to join together.
              Umm, weak powers? 😯Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Weak countries joining together is advantageous because of cooperation through union. But against a behemoth who is four, eight or ten the size of them, I’m not even sure if there is a value to it.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Everything that helps. The European Union is an example. They are too weak even together against Russia so they need the US to back them via NATO. But because they have a union, their bargaining power versus US is bigger. Even if the US tries to play out Eastern European states that hate and fear Russia more against Western European states that often treat their Eastern European brothers in a very arrogant way.

        • Vicara says:

          China likes bilateral because it can play the carrot-and-stick separately with each country–Lookee here, big investment! No strings attached! You are small, we are big and can squash you!–then play one country against the other, in the processing weakening regional cooperation and hobbling multi-party initiatives like UNCLOS.

          • jameboy says:

            That is possible. But the way I look at it, she prefers bilateral because it is safe compared to international arbitration where losing the case is a possibility.

            • Vicara says:

              And to recap Joe’s question, what will China do if it loses the case? Given its history and its current rhetoric, how will it deal with what it considers an intolerable–even unthinkable– humiliation?

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                They will just stay where they are – they are not interested in attacking the Philippines’ core territory. They will act like Russia in Crimea or in other areas.

                They will ignore the ruling I am very sure, but what can you do against that?

              • Joe America says:

                Stop selling Chinese toys in the Philippines.

              • jameboy says:

                And to recap Joe’s question, what will China do if it loses the case?
                Good question. I guess they’ll be in denial because any ruling is not binding with them.

                The second question is, what are we going to do if we win? Can we secure and defend the area? 👮

              • karl garcia says:

                not yet. But we won’t sulk. We have a plan for the next 5 years onwards, for the mean time we need big brothers.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            divide et impera, the Romans said. Statecraft is an old discipline.

            That is classic, Macchiavelli as well – see my comment above.

        • HighFive says:

          If EU/Nato/West formed an alliance to make themselves stronger I don’t see any reason why Philippines should not do that too. Philippines made the right decision when it decided to review its Mutual Defense Treaty with a long time ally USA. If Philippines did not do that it will position itself in a very vulnerable spot.

  6. RHiro says:

    The probability is very high that the UNCLOS will declare that the 9 Dash Line is mere “beer talk” than anything else by China…

    However the issue of defining the limits of territory as it applies to reefs, shoals is altogether another issue….

    China’s reclamation process was not a big secret… U.S. government is trying to put in a new narrative to try to get the upper hand on China because of its humiliating reversal in trying to get its closest allies from joining the Chinese infrastructure and investment bank…

    The Chinese leader is set to visit the U.S. later this year.

    Right wing nutcrackers here and in the U.S. are itching for turning the heat up in the disputed area.

    Henry Kissinger reminded both sides that nobody wanted the First World War but somehow mistakes by both sides made war inevitable….

    The Philippines is basking in the rays of world attention as a beacon of impressive GDP growth in a world beset by major economies managing a depression… Switzerland became the first country in history that floated 10 years bonds wherein the lender has to pay the Swiss state for the privilege of borrowing money..

    The financial world continues to be upside down where savings are being discouraged…

    The next Philippine government will inherit the same economic fundamentals in place at the start of the present government.

    Both pro-Binay and anti-Binay will have little sway over the economic fundamentals that are primarily caused by outside factors and influences..

    Suggestions of any armed response to China’s actions are simply delusional…

  7. HighFive says:

    Drop or dump metal junks and No Trespassing signs on every islets that has an ongoing construction work to cause delay and destruction. It’s a method that would not require firing of weapons therefore that would be a little bit non confrontational.

  8. PinoyInEurope says:

    International law developed over centuries from experience, the Peace of Westphalia, a sort of BBL ending the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants in Germany with France and Sweden heavily involved was one of its major bases.

    Countries that reject international law or disrespect it (Russia, China, some Arab states) go by the argument that international law was developed by the West to its advantage. First part is true, second part does not have to be true, a law that is good is good, no matter who developed it.

    Having written that, I do not think China will respect any rulings. They see their culture as older than Western culture and their claims as older than anything else. Extreme nationalism. Somewhat like extreme nationalists in Europe who have or had their claims for the territory of Greater Germany, Greater Hungary, Greater Serbia, Greater Poland, Malaja Rossija based on everything they once owned or thought they owned put together.

    Chinese emperors in the past considered the whole world their realm and everybody coming to visit at coming to pay tribute – including Marco Polo. Delusional but the same logic as today.

    As for Chinese island strategy, everything China is doing in the world today is like game of go – occupy with your stones and surround the others. Sponsoring building of harbors in Sri Lanka, projects in Africa, a new canal via Nicaragua. Strategically securing their bases to control trade and natural resources worldwide. The West Philippine sea is just one field on the vast go board that these descendants of Sun Tzu are trying to dominate. This should also be considered.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      The Philippines became what it is because Carlos Cinco, father of Felipe who gave it is name, needed a beachhead in the Pacific area and the tribes there were – and still are – too unruly and disunited to give any true resistance.

      The Yanks took over because they already had won the West, taken over Hawaii and parts of Samoa and were all set to enter the Pacific arena. Philippines and Guam were Spanish and were sold to the US by Spain together with Cuba and Puerto Rico.

      Now the Philippines is between the two great powers US and China who both want control. A ball being played. The ball must become a ballboy before it becomes a player. Better be the ballboy of the US than that of China.

      Macchiavellian logic dictates that it is better though for smaller powers to ally against a great power, because smaller powers that depend TOO MUCH on a great power become dependent. This does not mean NOT allying with the great power that is weaker or waning.

      The US is a great power that has reached is zenith and is waning. China is up and coming. Better not ally with them, besides we have more in common with the USA. But the Philippines should also ally with Vietnam because they are natural allies with China, and to have options so that there is not too much dependency on the USA even with alliance. Malaysia and Brunei are not good allies, they are treacherous, being Malays like we are.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Vietnam is a natural ally AGAINST China, I correct. And has the same interests across the sea, Philippines and Vietnam both want to keep their lanes open and possibly could jointly control and patrol them. Vietnam is a naval power now. They are an ASEAN country.

      • Joe America says:

        I don’t think American power is waning, but shifting. Less Euro-centric, more Americas centric and Asian centric. “Control” has to be defined. Chinese control means to “own” and to use freely. American control means widespread democracy and commercial freedom. Thus, the US advocates a strong, independent Philippines. China doesn’t care what government the Philippines chooses to be as long as they stay as they are, substantially powerless.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          “American control means widespread democracy and commercial freedom.” Commercial freedom so that American business can prosper. Democracy but with strong American influence if possible, Hugo Chavez not being the type of democratic leader the US likes.

          America lets its allies have substantial autonomy, examples are Germany and Turkey, if they have something to offer in return – like guarding the Russian and Oriental fronts. If the Philippines can become a stronger guard dog for the US in Asia, its role in the partnership with the United States could become less junior than before. Good for its national interests, because nations never have permanent friends only interests.

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, the US obviously has commercial interests, and interests in principle . . . like human rights. The idea is to find the mutual interests and work them to self-advantage. You still have the Philippines in a subordinate position, unable to control or effectively use the American power to Philippine advantage. Your fear of control is so great that you would make the Philippines weak.

            That’s the way it reads to me.

            China is also after commercial self-interest, for sure. It is not a bad thing. It is a thing . . . that is a part of wealth generation and caring for one’s citizens.

            • Joe America says:

              It also seems like you are looking for allies that will work mainly for Philippine interest above their own. With that pre-condition, the Philippines will have no allies.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Nope, it has to be give and take. But in every give and take, you have to think of your own interests and see how you can balance them with others. And be a tough negotiator and streetsmart strategist while not being a bazaari or con man.

              • Joe America says:

                I believe the Philippines, under the Aquino Administration, is doing that. I don’t know that Binay would see the nation’s interests the same way.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                See my comment on that below. Binay will sell out the country. Fuck him.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              “Your fear of control is so great that you would make the Philippines weak.” My last name is not Santiago, even though it also begins with an S. Again: I am for an alliance with USA, but not at the cost of being TOO dependent or provoking China to call the White House.

              I would like the Philippines to become a major partner of the US like Germany or Turkey, a strong guard dog and not a tuta = lapdog like it used to be.

              Thereby getting the most out of things both politically and commercially. I am a former commie turned communitarian who believe that wealth generation and equal opportunities are important, therefore I am all for inclusive capitalist growth and good economic policies.

        • tinacuyugan says:

          They’ll be watching next year’s election closely, and hoping the most venal trapo wins.

    • Joe America says:

      Their deeds fit perfectly into the picture you have drawn. It is apparent that the Chinese nationalists (not speaking historically, but in terms of mainland nationalists) consider outsiders to be lesser beings. Children to be lectured or lessers to be dominated.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        That is their tradition. After all, China is “All Under Heaven” and Chinese the “Sons of Heaven”. Chinese nationalist tradition is unbroken over millenia, they think long-term.

        Mao Zedong read Sun Tzu’s strategic works during the Long March (hehe this former Maoist and Filipino activist knows that!) and compared himself to Chin Shih Huang Ti, the first emperor of China, a brutal upstart peasant son who had the Great Wall of China built.

        • Vicara says:

          Not only that, they’ve held a longstanding grudge for the humiliation they endured under foreign powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.(Although it could be argued that the Ching dynasty, through a succession of weak rulers, helped bring that upon itself.) Deep-seated rage, even now, over the realization that other nations don’t see China as the center of the cosmos. That’s the point of all the ancient map-trading that’s been going on–to establish Beijing as the Seat of Heaven and a large chunk of the Pacific rim as its back yard. So Vietnam and the Philippines and the Bodleian Library in Oxford have been trotting out maps from different periods pointing out that no, there is no fixed center for Heaven, and even if there were, for a lot of people Beijing is not it. One hopes for the best, but expect the worst as China’s economy slows down, internal anxiety spreads, and its leaders cultivate xenophobia to divert public criticism away from the Party. Happening na.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            “Not only that, they’ve held a longstanding grudge for the humiliation they endured under foreign powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.(Although it could be argued that the Ching dynasty, through a succession of weak rulers, helped bring that upon itself.) ”

            Correct. They also depended too much on galleon trade with Spain/Mexico through the Philippines. Mexican pesos were a de facto currency until the early 20th century in China. An oversupply of Mexican silver pesos, pieces of eight, caused a major inflation in China in the 18th century which was the beginning of the end. The opium wars were the British protected Scottish drug importers was the next step, then came more humiliation for them.

            “Deep-seated rage, even now, over the realization that other nations don’t see China as the center of the cosmos. That’s the point of all the ancient map-trading that’s been going on–to establish Beijing as the Seat of Heaven and a large chunk of the Pacific rim as its back yard.”

            National narcisstic rage, similar to that of Germany after they lost their First Reich completely to Napoleon and Metternich, after it de facto no longer had any relevance after the Thirty Years War. Such rage can be VERY dangerous as we know.

            “One hopes for the best, but expect the worst as China’s economy slows down, internal anxiety spreads, and its leaders cultivate xenophobia to divert public criticism away from the Party.” Exactly. When that comes, the Nazis will look like a German folklore ensemble.

  9. PinoyInEurope says:

    You have to negotiate, but back it up with the threat of force. For all international law, meetings between nations are more like Mafia sitdowns than anything else.

    Partnerships and your relative strength in a partnership depend on what you bring to the table.

    Like it sometime is in marriage. You are either both young, good-looking and rich like Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera. Or one is old and rich and the other is young and beautiful, like Howard Marshall and Anne Nicole Smith, then you have to have a good pre-nuptial agreement.

    Philippines has nothing to go on but its street smarts, ideas like those of Karl Garcia are a start. Street dogs may be stunted in growth, but they bite harder and sometimes they have rabies.

    Combine street dog with Macchiavelli and you have ideas like the potential alliance with Vietnam. Add the negotiating component from a wise old Chinoy-Kastilanoy in LA and you have a potential deal between China, Vietnam and the Philippines to control the sea lanes together, with the Philippines and Vietnam ready to hit senior partner China with a boat paddle if it does nonsense.


    The US can be in too, but not only on its terms, Philippines and Vietnam can use the rivalry between the two great powers to their advantage to actually have more control over how the sea between them is controlled – and an advantage in international trade and in terms of power.

    To former ballboys, one a ballboy of the Russians, one of the USA, can become tennis players. Not yet Wimbledon, but regional level. That should be the goal, not permanent dependency.


    Damn I should not have made so many mistakes in my life. I could have become DFA strategist.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      But then again, I might have become a spaced-out theoretician.

      But the boy who grew up on UP Campus and had slum friends in Balara as well never wanted to be just a highfalutin geek. Plus my life experience gave me useful insights.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Have the US as the wall behind the Philippines, they want a “piece of the action” (old Chicago slang for a share of the spoils) in Asia so protection in exchange for business.

      But make sure the wall stays a wall, the Karpman drama triangle teaches us that rescuers can become persecutors. Bantay-salakay is the Filipino word for that:

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        So we are back to the dog on the banca. His name is probably Bantay.

        No more frogs left in those waters. Karl has eaten them already.

        Now how and where will I learn to eat a frog every morning?

    • Joe America says:

      Now I’m getting confused, you say the small missile boat use of force is not good, nor is alliance with the US, but it is important to back up one’s position with force. The Philippines will be a real military force in 20 years, by which time the oil and minerals will be gone. China fears only one nation, I think. And that’s the Philippine alliance you don’t like.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        The alliance with the US is good, but should not be relied upon exclusively. Please do not misread my postings. It should be used by the Philippines, but not at the cost of totally being dependent on the United States, commercially and politically.

        You need a mix to succeed. Alliance (big guys behind you), small missile boat use of force (own threat), alliance of underdogs (Vietnam) plus street smarts to combine them properly to become strong and respected in time. It works in politics, business and on the street.

          • Joe America says:

            I don’t want to run around following links. My internet is too slow. What’s the point, in a sentence?

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Sorry, thanks for reminding me of that aspect. I am spoiled here, with my Swiss keyboard and 16 MB/second.

              Copied and condensed the points, the answers were given to you above, so I write them down for the ease and benefit of our readers:

              In every give and take, you have to think of your own interests and see how you can balance them with others. And be a tough negotiator and streetsmart strategist while not being a bazaari or con man.

              I am for an alliance with USA, but not at the cost of being TOO dependent or provoking China to call the White House. I would like the Philippines to become a major partner of the US like Germany or Turkey, a strong guard dog and not a tuta = lapdog like it used to be.

              Thereby getting the most out of things both politically and commercially. I am a former commie turned communitarian who believes that wealth generation and equal opportunities are important, therefore I am all for inclusive capitalist growth and good economic policies.

        • Joe America says:

          I believe that is the strategy the Aquino Administration is following, multi-dimensional, but I think the investment in equipment is tepid (there are SO many demands for money) and the manpower is mis-used fighting internal battles. Meanwhile, a lot of Filipinos want war in Mindanao as the solution there. The US caved to the Philippines in numerous areas in the recent base-sharing agreement. The US facilities are open to Filipino inspections, the US builds the facilities, and the Philippines owns them, and there is no long term commitment like the US wanted. We’ve already gone over the various alliance initiatives.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Yes, I agree, this is again a proof that Noynoy may look “stupid” or “retarded” to many but is very underestimated, very smart. Just like I, the nerd, was underestimated by gangsters.

            Politics is a gang fight, a mob game, international politics is an even more vicious game.

            • Joe America says:

              Well, Miss Universe Philippines enjoys his company . . . if being a nerd gets him such companionship, I’d rather be him than the critics.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Well, I am not a critic of Noynoy on all points, so don’t put me into that basket.

                I am definitely against provoking China unnecessarily and calling the White House, that would make the Philippines owe the US something and that is not necessary either.

        • jameboy says:

          The alliance with the US is good, but should not be relied upon exclusively.
          That is the most solid alliance we have not to rely on exclusively. We are dealing with a Goliath, so, it is just proper that we have our own Goliath beside us. We have no choice but to rely on the US for assistance. 👲

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            We have the choice to build parallel alliances and our own strength as well under that.

            Vietnam is ASEAN and therefore a valid and even logical alliance.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Once again – do not misunderstand. I am all for the US alliance. I may be crazy but not as crazy as Brenda = brain damage, which was what many have called Senator Santiago.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            And Vietnam is as far as I know also claiming some of those islands, which were also claimed by Marcos for the Philippines the first time as far as I know. They were not part of the original Philippine territory in Spanish times, OK they ARE nearest to the Philippines.

            I would rather share some islands and resources with Vietnam than with China or with Malaysia and Brunei, who also claim some islands in the area and are untrustworthy.

            Ally with Vietnam and with strong US backing. Build own forces. That is the strategy.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Let me mention a conversation with my fatherly friend Manong Eddie, husband of my former yaya, his advice to me regarding business – where I am up to now subcontracting for small but terrible SME SAP partners:

      Kung gusto mong lumakas ang negosyo mo, huwag kang pa-angkas-angkas lang – my answer to him was:

      Habang maliit pa ang negosyo ko, angkas muna ako. Hanggang sa may kaalaman at kapital ako para handa akong grumaduate sa mas mataas na level. Unti-unti iyan

      This knowledge can be applied to all things, politics, business or street level. If you are a ball you must become a ballboy first before you become a small player.

      The goal should be to become a strong guard dog of the USA like Germany or Turkey, a respected partner and not a tuta = lapdog like before. Intelligent nationalism.

  10. Joe America says:

    A thought I dropped off at facebook in response to a comment there:

    “China is facing strong push-back from throughout Asia, including India. It may not stop China’s expansion of sea territory, but it must make thoughts about any isolated military action against one opponent less attractive as an option. Asian nations would say, ‘well, if I don’t help, it will be me next.’ Essentially China’s divide and conquer strategy is not working. Her crude acts are sealing Asian nations, one to the other, in opposition.”

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Very good – similar to the opposition Russia eventually faced in Eastern Europe that caused the Warsaw pact to come down, these were all forced allies. That is why a triple strategy – ally with Vietnam and share resources and islands with them (better than with China) since they are also claiming some islands that were never part of Spanish Philippines anyway but just a Marcos claim from what I know, have the US to back everything up and strengthen Filipino forces – is the best from my point of view.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        That sums up my point of view derived from own brainstorming and discussions here.

        Like I used to do in the software business, I am testing and fixing in production. Have to still learn from Edgar Lores who waits until he writes things down or codes them.

      • PinoyInEurope says: – more on the Spratly or Kalayaan islands:

        The Spratly Islands (Chinese: Nansha islands, Filipino: Kapuluan ng Kalayaan,[7] Malay: Kepulauan Spratly and Vietnamese: Quần đảo Trường Sa) are a disputed group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea.[8] The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam..

        In addition to various territorial claims, some of the features have civilian settlements, but of the approximately 45 islands, reefs, cays and other features that are occupied, all contain structures which are occupied by military forces (from the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia). Additionally, Brunei has claimed (but does not occupy) an exclusive economic zone in the southeastern part of the Spratlys which includes the Louisa Reef. These claims and occupations have led to escalating tensions between these countries over the status and “ownership” of the islands. – the Philippine claim:

        The Philippine assertion of sovereignty over the Spratly Islands began in May 1956, when Tomas Cloma, owner of a Philippine fishing vessel company, and director of the Philippine Maritime Institute, declared the founding of the new municipality called “Kalayaan” (Eng.: freedom).

        He “found” the islands while he, with his brothers and 40 crew, were “adventuring” in the South China Sea. Observing that there was no human settlement, nor national flag, present on them, he decided to establish the Kalayaan municipality. He posted a document in English, entitled Notice to the Whole World, on all features he claimed. His claim comprises about fifty features among the Spratly group.[4] In September 1956, after the Republic of China occupied the largest island, Ligao Island (Itu Aba), Cloma decided to cede and sell all the territories of his state to the Philippines for one peso (US$0.50 of the time).[citation needed] Cloma wrote to Carlos Garcia, then Philippine Vice President and Foreign Minister, asserting that his claim was based on “discovery and occupation”. Garcia replied that judging from the point of “occupation” and “proximity”, there were no reasons for these islands and reefs not to be under Philippine jurisdiction.[5]

        The Philippine government incorporated the Kalayaan group into Palawan Province as a municipality in April 1972, and claimed in 1974 that “Its location rendered it strategically important to Philippine national security”.[6] In 1978, the Philippine Presidential Decree No. 1599 was based on the fact that Kalayaan is within the Philippine 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).[7] The Philippine claim extends over an area of 70,150 sq. nm.[8]

        I knew it was Marcos, April 1972 was before Martial Law but during his time. So in the end we have many claimants including us, and the Vietnamese are also claimants and potential allies against China – with US backing of course – who could share resources.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        To answer some questions and doubts:

        – I am not for giving up the claim to the islands

        – I am not for fighting it out with China – FOR NOW.

        One must fight when one is ready or not fight.

        We must stay things until we are truly ready.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          Plus: the goal of a war with China should be to drive them out of ALL small islands, back to their own shores. Make no mistakes, a war with China will be the Third World War.

          When China and the US fight, Russia will make a grab for the parts of Eastern Europe that it thinks rightfully belong to it – meaning all Slavic countries, the Panslavist imperial idea has always been the base of Russian nationalism, even throughout the Communist period.

          One should only start a war if one is relatively sure of winning it. This one will be really big.

  11. karl garcia says:

    Separate comment box for less meddling. All nations have their own interests and I don’t care who said it first, because I agree. US,Japan,South Korea is already an ally, true they have interests,and those are business interests. Vietnam is an ally but like Thailand, we compete with them for locators in atomotive, food and bev,semi con…..wait I am losing track.
    My point being everyone has its own interests.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Herr Tanod, vielen Dank und jawohl! I will stick to that tip to annoy people less.

      Yep, and there are business and political interests. US and EU are for example allies when it comes to political interests but rivals when it comes to economic interests.

      The US want their cut for protecting Europe from Russia, the present arguments on the TTIP trade treaty are a symptom of the conflict of interest.

      Merkel in the Ukraine crisis is helping Obama, but keeping her options open toward Russia. It helps in that situation that she is a snake like Grace Poe, maybe even more.

      In the end it is about finding the right balance and not being more dependent than you have to be, you always depend on others but the question is HOW. Provoking war with China so that the US can move in, for islands that were never truly part of the Philippines? In international law you have the difference between de facto and de jure. Therefore the three-pronged approach, US backing, Vietnam alliance and strenghten own forces.

      • karl garcia says:

        Heard about the story about the hawk and the dove?
        You took provoking seriously???? Then it provoked you.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          Well, trying to get the islands back at this point would be a provocation and an excuse for China to move in, and the Philippines would have to call the US for help, increasing their dependency on them. At the moment not much can really be done about those islands.

          They are not part of the core of Philippine territory, Cloma went in only in the 1950s, Marcos claimed them in 1972. Bangsamoro is far more important in my opinion.

          • Joe America says:

            I think the seriousness of the claim is reflected in the name of the claim, “Freedom Land”. Sounds like that section of Disneyland where the robotic Abe Lincoln used to give his speech. (Is he still there??) Cloma sold his claim to the Philippines for a peso or somesuch, under duress. It was a wholly whacko enterprise, if you ask me, and not worth dying over. However, Panatag Shoal, give me an outrigger and a six pack of dynamite and I’ll join the fisher-commandos.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              So China can hit back, and then your hawks can move in to help us, causing more dependency on the United States for the Philippines? No way man, that ain’t helpin, that’s the way you do it, money for nothing and chicks for free. Like the Dire Straits song.

              • Joe America says:

                Love that song. Well, here’s an idea. We’ll just let China have the rocks in the seas and we’ll do a better job of caring for the resources in our own domain. We’ve lost more to smuggling than China will ever dig out of those few rocks in Philippine territory. I’m starting to cave here.

                Dire Straits gets me every time, money for nothin’, chicks for free.

              • Joe America says:

                Romantic period, 1995ff, upstate New York, Italy, rocker chick, a lot of bottles of wine and Dire Straits . . .

                Life’s too short and rich for this war horsehockey . . .

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Sometimes even nationalists have to beat a strategic retreat. You think the Russians liked leaving the Baltic countries? Their nationalists HATE Gorbachov for that until today.

                Having said that, true patriots worldwide respect each other. My father has connections to Serb patriots, German patriots, French patriots (he studied there) and some others. The only foreigners they do not like are racists, imperialists and disrespectful migrants…

                A true patriot loves HIS country and hates no other countries, a true patriot defends his lands but respects other lands, a true patriot respects migrants that respect the country. Like I wrote to you Joe, my father regularly READS this blog and shares it on Facebook.

      • jameboy says:

        Provoking war with China so that the US can move in, for islands that were never truly part of the Philippines?
        So we surrender? Let China dominate the whole area while we sulk? China is the right owner and we should not defend too much on the US and forget the alliance with Vietnam? Just let go of everything because we don’t have a case on those islands?

        PinoyIE, I think it’s about time to really get serious on the issue and have a clear stand on it. I get confusing signals from your end that I cannot help but to put you on the spot.

        Do you think we don’t have a case on those islands? 🌏

  12. I have a confession I usually have a throwaway comment so I can get new comments through mail. This works well when you get to be the first commenter.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      I don’t use mail notification in this blog, only at Raissa and at GRP where I occasionally make small comments. Here I use search on Firefox with ‘April 12, 2015 at 3:’ for example.

      But it is true that if someone gets my comments by mail, they are truly hard to follow so I will bear the use of that functionality by others in mind when commenting. Like in a SAP project where I have to bear in mind different users interfaces. Or different bandwidths/equipment.

  13. Cant we just lease the disputed islands to Japan?

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Excellent idea, because the Japanese would protect them. But maybe they would not want the trouble that far down South.

      That is why I see sharing them with Vietnam and protecting them together as the solution.

    • Joe America says:

      Ahahahahaha, you are in one of your ingenious moods today, I see. That is a GREAT idea.

    • jameboy says:

      Cant we just lease the disputed islands to Japan?
      Who’s going to enter into a lease on a property the ownership is being disputed by several claimants? I’m sure Japan will not do that. 😶

      • Yes or maybe. We have to factor in the instability within japan and the drive to change the constitution from it’s current pacifist stance to one that is more akin to the self determination that mature nations have.

        There is enough anti-chinese sentiments in the Japanese Business world that something admittedly crazy is within play.

        • jameboy says:

          It’s not about Japan it’s about us. We don’t have the right nor the authority to lease the territory yet because the ownership of it is under arbitration.

          And we’ll be the laughing stock of the world if we do that because we filed as case regarding ownership and here we are leasing it? That theory will show bad faith on our part. 😮

          • karl garcia says:

            after proving ownership laeae it, then kick them out later, once we are stronger.thst disproves the utang ng loob.

    • Bert says:

      Hehehe, that’s the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard. I was impressed.

  14. PinoyInEurope says:

    My summary of my standpoint on the topic complex of China, islands and the Philippines:

    1. A triple strategy is IMHO best

    1a. ally with Vietnam and share resources and islands with them (better than with China) since they are also claiming some islands that were never part of Spanish Philippines anyway but just a Marcos claim from back in 1972.

    1b. have the US to back everything up and

    1c. strengthen Filipino forces.

    2. As for the claim to the territory, do not give it up

    3. As for fighting it out with China

    a. any provocation can mean war

    b. we must fight it out ONLY when we are ready

    c. the goal must be an alliance to drive China out of all small islands, back to their shores.

    Finally, a war with China could be the Third World War.

    When China and the US fight, Russia could make a grab for the parts of Eastern Europe that it thinks rightfully belong to it – meaning all Slavic countries, the Panslavist imperial idea has always been the base of Russian nationalism, even throughout the Communist period.

    One should only start a war if one is relatively sure of winning it. This one could be really big.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      So the goal of all alliances against China should be:

      A. Containment as long as China is too powerful.

      B. Destroying China’s imperial ambitions when ready.

      The alliance should strive to destabilize China internally by fomenting unrest through spies.

      Overseas Chinese who do not like China because they come from the outcasts there are perfect candidates for such operations, since they fit in as deep penetration agents (DPAs).

      • Joe America says:

        I thought I was the only Tom Clancy lookalike around here. But I can see you aspire as well . . . 🙂

        I think there is a middle option, like a war of attrition that makes China’s adventurism very expensive. Once they put up a drilling platform, sink it. That kind of thing. Doesn’t matter who’s territory it is in. If it is in the contested sea, sink it. If there is a big boat nearby, sink it, too. I’d develop substantially non-metallic submarines, small, made of rubber maybe or composites, hard to detect, that can tow huge explosives into place and take a leg out of the platform. The driver would be named Tom Swift.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      And finally, the ASEAN plus South Korea and Japan can form a REAL Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity sphere, but not under Japanese control like during World War 2. With American backing, but as THE respected junior of the United States, even more than EU.

      • Joe America says:

        That’s good, very good. Better than giancarlo’s “rent the islands to Japan” solution. Actually, it seems that there is motion in that direction, a kind of slow-motion morph as China pushes ASEAN states (and S. Korea, Japan and India) into each others’ arms. Korea and Japan don’t really like each other, though. That one will take some work.

    • jameboy says:

      How ’bout an alliance with China? Possible or not?

      If we align with Vietnam it doesn’t improve the situation because a weak aligning with a weak simply means two weak countries who has nothing in common except being weak compared to China. ⛵

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        One teenage boy and one small boy can at least throw stones at the neighborhood bully and keep him at bay, especially with Uncle Sam in the background, but they do not have to call the white man too often so they do not owe him too much utang na loob.

        • jameboy says:

          …they do not have to call the white man too often so they do not owe him too much utang na loob.
          How do you quantify that? Even a single call will cost you. Nothing’s wrong in ‘utang na loob’ especially if your survival is at stake. 😧

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Yep, the utang na loob is there anyway, but minimize it to avoid total dependency.

            But for that, you have to be a bit bigger and stronger like Turkey and Germany.

            While on the way there, avoid too much utang na loob, play it streetsmart…

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              As I wrote, better for the small boy to hide from the bully while he is still small.

              Only call on the white man when the bully is really close to attacking him.

              • karl garcia says:

                What about Taiwan, smaller in size, but is not afraid of mainland,want to tell us why?
                North Korea is a problem, Iran is a problem. We would want China on our side when that happens, what about Mother Russisla.

              • karl garcia says:

                China has a way of grabbing Moscow by the balls buy buying their Siberian oil via pipeline.

                As I woild aldo like to repeat myself, let us concetrate on oil smuggling, ASG kidnaping…wil drones help? then more drones,more technology to combat technical smuggling. Sat down with think tanks that involve my father, and sometimes my loud voice helps, before saying shut up young man, I already made my point. My dad would pretend he does not know me everytime.A sit in butting in.
                I do that in power lunches too. My chance to voice opinion, i grab it, at the risk of never to tag along with dad because he can’t shut up.

      • Joe America says:

        That does need to go on the drawing board. It means the Philippines has to substantially give up claims. Maybe keep Panatag and Pagasa and move on. I have another idea, too, but will reserve that for a blog on its own.

  15. Bert says:

    “”How ’bout an alliance with China? Possible or not?”

    jameboy, an alliance with China while China is busy fortifying it’s reclaimed and occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea and expanding? No, you don’t make friend with a neighbor while the neighbor is grabbing your land and building structures on it.

    To PinoyIE, why are you so wary of útang na loob’? Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are totally dependent on US military protection for long time otherwise they could have been gobbled up by China already if not for that. Do you think those three countries worry about útang na loob’?

    The South China Sea is a vital sea lane, vital to the interest of the United States. The US has a stake in the area to keep it free thus preventing China from its advances of total domination of the sea lane is to the interest of the US also. So the US coming to the aid of those smaller countries including the Philippines is of mutual benefits to all concerns hence negating that útang na loob” you are so wary about.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      The vital sea lane is the key issue – not the Philippines. China has no reason to ever annex the Philippines with its huge population. It “only” wants to control trade routes – port building in Sri Lanka, planned canal in Nicaragua…

      By placing a claim on Panatag Shoal, they can claim the entire South China Sea is theirs and can block trade routes if they decide to. Time for a multi-country alliance to keep the sea lanes international and open. But not to provoke a war.

      • Joe America says:

        I think they only want the resources, the oil and minerals and turtle gonads, or whatever, for sexual prowess and eternal youth.

      • Bert says:

        The more reason for the US to get actively involve with us on our claim to Panatag Shoal–a Philippine issue. A plan for a multi-country alliance in this part of the world is not yet on the offing, how long will it take for such an alliance to materialize and be effective in neutralizing China’s aggressive expansions in the area…five years…ten years? By that time, China had established already footholds in the contested areas with military installations such as naval and air force bases that have state of the art warfare technology. By then we could be in shit up to our neck if not over our head. Time is of the essence and the time to make a move is now. I think that there is already some movements in Washington with regards to this concern. Nobody wants a full scale world war to happen, but if it’s a matter of ones survival who can predict for sure what’s going to happen next.

    • jameboy says:

      jameboy, an alliance with China while China is busy fortifying it’s reclaimed and occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea and expanding? No, you don’t make friend with a neighbor while the neighbor is grabbing your land and building structures on it.
      That is true. When your neighbor doesn’t speak with you and keep on making hostile acts, it’s wise to keep your distance.

      However on the level of probability, if the Chinese refuses to submit to any negotiation other than the one they want to have with each claimant, how is it if we go along and talk with them, as opined by a member here, and find out their real objective and if possible settle the issue not about ownership but about equal sharing, administration, etc. of the disputed territory?

      I know it’s an impossibility at the moment when everybody is either talking about aligning with somebody against China or contemplating war and how to go about it. But it’s one of the options that is out there. 👀

  16. Karl garcia says:

    From Yvonne over at Raissa’s:

    yvonne says:
    April 13, 2015 at 2:15 am
    This is related to my comment #39 which is now buried in the old comments section:

    In that post, I said: “But what makes me furious is the knowledge that several long-range, modern, ballistic missiles are intentionally and specifically pointed at the Philippines at a time when we have diplomatic relations, have economic partnership with China, and with the U.S. military bases already dismantled a long time ago. I know of no other country pointing its missiles toward us.”

    To be more specific, here are some additional details from U.S. intelligence information:

    “China’s missile and space systems will further expand its superiority over the Armed Forces of the Philippines. China still maintains intermediate range nuclear missiles, DF-21s and possibly DF-3s, at its Lianxiwang Launch Complex. Originally these were targeted at U.S. military forces in the Philippines, but China’s missiles have remained pointed at Filipinos long after the departure of U.S. forces.”

    China has “new long-range land attack cruise missiles that can be launched from sea and air platforms. Both ballistic and cruise missile will soon be targeted by a Chinese satellite network that will include new electro-optical and radar satellites, and new navigation satellites.”

    “The Philippines has no defense against Chinese missiles.”

    yvonne says:
    April 13, 2015 at 4:14 am
    “In the late 1990s the South Sea Fleet received six new and upgraded Ming-class conventional submarines. These are not the most modern submarines in the region, but in combination with
    the South Sea Fleet’s many other missile-armed ships and attack aircraft, they give Beijing a clear superiority over the Philippine Navy and Air Force.”

    yvonne says:
    April 13, 2015 at 5:06 am

    “The Philippines has also been vocal about its disagreements with China’s territorial claims, requesting arbitration against China under the U.N. [United Nations] Convention on the Law of the Sea last year. Reports this weekend indicate the Philippines is building its military presence in the Zhongye Island and China is now insisting that it plans to attack Philippine forces on the island to recover territory that Philippines allegedly ‘‘stole.’’”

    “This all follows the Administration’s decision to send B–52 bombers out of Guam to fly through the new defense zone in the East China Sea, and its plans to give nearly $32 million to Vietnam to strengthen maritime security, with a promise to provide the Philippines with $40 million to do the same. While these actions should send a strong message to China to be wary of taking further provocative actions, we cannot be sure. As we saw when the USS Cowpens narrowly avoided collision with a Chinese warship in December, heightened tensions between the U.S., China and also our allies are only increasing the risk of miscalculation in the region. I believe steps taken by the U.S. and Japan to revise our alliance’s
    bilateral defense guidelines to better deal with new contingencies is a good step, as is the consideration to locate U.S. troops in the Philippines on a rotational basis, as we have done in Australia. At the same time, I believe the Administration needs to do a better job at understanding and predicting China’s strategic goals and clearly conveying that the U.S. is committed and prepared to work with and support our regional allies.”

  17. sonny says:

    Serendipity! An aha-moment! What I get for having a scavenger mind, viz. Smoky Mountain, Tondo

    @ Vicara
    I’m curious about where you got the idea on trotting out maps from Bodleian library. New to me. Thanks. I would suggest not the Ching Dynasty but point to Admiral Zheng He’s period. He is the counterpart of Alfred T. Mahan, USN and good ole Teddy Roosevelt!

    @ PiE
    Observation on PiE’s memory: keep it up, man. what goes in stays in. Since you’re an IT-man, share your indexing system. Yes?

    I still need to get untracked on the 10-man team “concept” I am assuming that once the cookie-cutter is designed, 1,000-plus municipalities will be more manageable. Yes?

    @ Joe
    Am resigned to fact that I’m on the quantum precipice of life. (I hope I’m not too cryptic. I’m simply old) 😦 I still have a Scorpio’s optimism, though.

    • sonny says:

      @ Mischa
      (out of topic) – Read something on the God of Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell and Monsignor George Lemaitre. Since you’ve decided the Bible is “liber non gratus (unfavorable book)” Just a friendly suggestion. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      I didn’t know Scorpios were optimistic. I thought they were very intelligent, quick of wit, and enjoyed . . . well, a version of physical exercise that requires a partner. I appreciate the new knowledge.

      • sonny says:

        Very tricky zodiac sign, Joe. (Not the physical exercise part. the sign owns it. 🙂 )

        My favorite factoid: scorpions procreate by first locking claws to render stingers inoperable. Then one party deposits payload onto the ground. with claws still locked, both parties navigate such that the other party deposits its payload atop the grounded payload. I don’t know whether there is an analog of the human oxytocin in scorpions. ha ha

  18. OldmaninLA says:

    Maturing dialogue diplomacy with China-Japan, how about the China-Philippine leaders?

    Here is China-Japan recent news, April 14, 2015

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talks with Yohei Kono, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade (3rd from left), during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 14, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / POOL)
    BEIJING – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has met with a Japanese delegation led by ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono amid halting efforts to reduce tensions between the countries.


    Hate and war are very destructive and barbaric,
    Remember American-Filipino war in 1900, Filipino casualties low estimate 220,000, war death was 34,000, check Wiki. Diseases death in million.
    Remember US-Iraq war in 2003, U.S. Death 4500, Iraq death 220,000, casualties in million.
    U.S. Financially bankrupt in 2008.


    China-Philippines Friendly dialogue and negotiation is the win-win situation with these reef and shoal territory. Pres. Noynoy can send a Chinoy diplomat/trader as special envoy to sit with China leader as ice breaker. Else,
    Current confrontation unfriendly approach is a lose-lose situation.

    My empirical observation base in History, China is only interested in trade with Southeast Asian nations and territorial fishing in South China Sea since 1400 AD then formally claimed the dash line area in 1947, until it was provoked by Cloma/Marcos and Chinese fishermen apprehension.
    Now China is in a defense approach.

    More confrontation, more China defense…………..more animosity, more lose………
    U.S. and China will not get into War for MAD.. Mutual Assured Destruction.

    Corazon Aquino is Chinay, Marcos is Chinoy, Noynoy is Chinoy, I’m Chinoy, we all love the Philippines. All of us are born in the Philippines.

    I’m done padre!

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