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China’s military base in Philippine territory must absolutely be blocked

Publication Date : 30-05-2014

 

Push has now come to shove. Emboldened by the lack of military resistance in occupying Philippine islands and with her fishing and navy boats sailing at will in our waters, China’s military leaders have now initiated a bold land reclamation military base project in Mabini Reef (Fiery Cross Reef). Location:  about 150 miles from Palawan and within the Philippines 200 miles Exclusive Economic Zone as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (Unclos).

China online news Qianzhan.com reported that the military installation would cost around $5 billion and would take 10 years to complete.  The No. 9 Design and Research Institute of the State Shipbuilding Corp. has come up with a proposed design for the military base, which is similar to that of a 100,000-tonne aircraft carrier.

It would function like an anchored aircraft carrier with fighter planes and sophisticated weaponry, which would  likely include missiles eventually. Another similar base is also planned for Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef), about 120 miles from Palawan.

The Qianzhan report announced the intentions of China’s military leaders clearly indicating expansionist motives:
“Construction of the two artificial islands at Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Islands will be equivalent to that of building aircraft carriers but the strategic gains will be very big. The artificial island at Fiery Cross will be an unreplaceable (sic)military base with great strategic significance because of its location and size. Such a base will realise the value of the South China Sea for China and ensure China’s status in Southeast Asia.”

What they mean is that once these bases are established, they will have unquestioned control over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) because of the military advantages that these bases will bring.

Installing these bases is no different from the Soviet Union installing missiles in Cuba aimed at the heart of America during President Kennedy’s time. Here Chinese missiles and combat aircraft would reach the Philippines and surrounding countries within minutes. Kennedy confronted the Soviets and risked war and successfully prevented the installations.

For very serious security and sovereignty reasons, the  Philippines, surrounding countries  and the United States cannot afford to allow China’s military leaders to establish  these bases. It would be like having hundreds of bombs hanging over you, which could fall anytime over which you have no control.

Once these bases are established, it would be practically impossible to remove them. The missiles, combat aircraft and other weapons therein would be utilized by the stationed personnel to resist against  any removal or destruction attempts. The Philippines and other Asean Nations and the United States must immediately halt these military projects before they become terrible realities.

No longer do China’s military leaders even resort to covering their grab and take strategy. They had repeatedly announced that the structures on Mischief reef and the blockade of Scarborough Shoals were simply for the benefit of their fishermen. Now, they routinely and openly announce in China’s state media their military objectives and long-term goal of complete control of the West Philippine Sea and the skies above.

If the Philippines, the surrounding countries and the United States allow the establishment of these bases, which are deep within Philippine territory, not only would they be constant threats to the security of the Asean, it would also mean that the Philippines and her neighbouring countries and the U.S.  would have practically conceded  that China could unilaterally claim and possess any territory in the West Philippine Sea just by using raw military bullying tactics.

China refuses to participate in the case filed by the Philippines in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (Itlos)regarding China’s intrusion in Philippine territories and announced that she would not honour the ruling of the Court. Acting like a rogue nation and not learning from the valuable lessons of history, ignoring the mistakes of Hitler and Japan’s military leaders in WWII,

China’s seemingly out of control and irrational leaders are utilising sheer military might to overwhelm their neighbours contrary to principles of morality, international law and civilized behavior. By so doing, they are dragging the Chinese people towards inevitable conflict with the rest of the world and likely eventual self-destruction. A  regime change would be the only escape route for the Chinese people from sure disaster, which the global community would support unless China’s present leaders change their ways and play within the rules of civilised nations.

The United States cannot afford to stay on the sidelines and allow China to gain power by expanding  its territories and grabbing the energy resources of surrounding neighbours through coercion and intimidation. Like it or not, to maintain credibility and  respect as a superpower and defender of democratic principles, the U.S. must remain true to the expectations of the global community of ally nations: The U.S. must chain down the hungry dragon to prevent it from swallowing neighbouring  territories  and bringing harm and havoc to the region.

By any and all means possible, the  Philippines, other affected countries  and the U.S. must take immediate decisive  action to prevent these Chinese military bases from being completed. They must give a combined strong message to China that construction of these bases cannot and would not be allowed. If they need to do a multination blockade, demolish the already started landfill with powerful smart bombs, use drone technology to destroy the landfill equipment — all of the above or whatever else needs to be done –then these must be done. This is plain simple common sense, preventive, legitimate self-defence actions for the affected countries.

The civilised world would understand and support these self-defence actions. Clearly, the unauthorised, unilateral construction of Chinese military bases deep within Philippine territory shows malice. China’s military leadership means to control the whole West Philippine Sea and surrounding nations. China planned installations are within striking distance, deadly  daggers pointed at the hearts of these nations.

At a time when we need it so much, an old powerful ally has come to offer help to deter China’s aggression. The United States has recently entered into a military agreement with the Philippines called Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (Edca). No less than US President Barack Obama  came to the Philippines to assure the Filipno people of his country’s ironclad commitment to fight together with the Philippines when  the Philippines is attacked.

Comes now a few very vocal groups of left-leaning  individuals who style themselves as nationalists or adherents to the “rule of law.”  Some are well meaning, some with sentimental or ideological ties to China and some just wanting to call attention to themselves. They filed a petition in the Philippine Supreme Court to stop EDCA dead on its track.

Their position is that Edca amounts to being a Treaty and therefore subject to a two-thirds approval of the Philippine Senate. Whether it is a treaty or not is a question of fact and law I will not get into here. Maybe it is, maybe it is not.

But essentially, here’s the reality: A huge, powerful alien force is at our gates, taking what is ours, kicking us in the gut and humiliating us.  Even if we have filed a complaint in a UN Court, the decision will take time; China also says she would not respect any decision from that court. Meanwhile, Chinese forces continue to invade and take our territories.  We are practically helpless. But with help from superpower United States, China’s aggression could possibly be deterred.

What then? Refuse this critically needed help and say it is illegal for us to accept it? Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Should a father whose son is starving to death refuse to steal bread because it is illegal to do so? Even King David broke the law and ate the sacred bread in the temple when he was starving. Laws are made for man, not vice versa.

Yes, the law says treaties require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate (where more than a third of its current members are suspected of stealing billions of the people’s money), but is this man made law more sacred than the God-given law of our right to self defence against a powerful aggressive invader? Why even invoke it in the first place when invoking it goes against our national interest and helps the invader?

I would rather have a people who could properly discern which laws ought to be obeyed and which laws ought to be ignored or even disobeyed, rather than have robots who think that all laws need to be obeyed, especially in a country where the laws are often used by the powerful and the corrupt to oppress, exploit and steal from the people.

We desperately need Edca. . We definitely also must never allow Chinese military bases within striking distance of our territory.

(The writer is a San Francisco based human rights lawyer and California State Bar officially certified Immigration Law expert.)

 

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