The Filipino Foreign Ministry has insisted that China demilitarise in the West Philippine Sea.
“Grave concern” over China’s militarisation in our region has also been expressed elsewhere in Asean. But as pointed out by Ernest Bower, Southeast Asia senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Chinese are not going to walk back just because they are asked to do so by a group of Asean foreign ministers. And it would be great if they dismantled their weapons systems, but that’s not going to happen.
China is resorting to the use of force in asserting its claims. Today the claims cover disputed territories; tomorrow they could be anything.
China’s intention is to build up its military capability to pursue its economic interests. What’s next? China seems bent on speeding up its territorial expansionist thrust by imposing its laws on other nations. Its incursions are indicative that it really wants to start a conflict in the Asean region.
We are in a dilemma and could land on the losing end if we fail to discern the nature of our current situation. We should focus on avoiding a full-scale war with China because we all know we cannot afford it. What we must aim to attain is what is legally ours.
Ann R Aquino (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN)