Skip to main content

Keep China in check (No pun intended)

"The Chinese are too strong, too assertive. That is why a Pax Sinica is very threatening to us," said an analyst from Vietnam's Diplomatic Academy to a reporter from the Atlantic magazine. Vietnam has cause for concern: China invaded it 17 times. 

Vietnam is not resting on China's assurances that it is only interested in business and harbors no imperial ambitions. Vietnam recently spent $200 million to rehabilitate Cam Ranh Bay, probably the largest and most important US naval base during the Vietnam War, to make it available for use by foreign navies.

In Vietnamese "making Cam Ranh Bay available for foreign navies" means laying out the welcome mat for the US. In Chinese "laying out the welcome mat for the US" means containment, a bad word to the communist tyrants in Beijing. The phrase also means containment in Vietnamese and English but it's a good word as far as they and the rest of the civilized world are concerned.

Everybody wants to keep China in check. (No pun intended.)

Nobody wants Pax Sinica or Chinese hegemony. Everybody welcomes increased "US meddling in Asia-Pacific affairs", to use Beijing's characterization of US presence, because no civilized country wants an utterly corrupt totalitarian regime exercising exclusive control over the South China Sea. Everybody wants someone who can guarantee that Beijing will not make unilateral moves that violate "the rules-based order that has served the region for six decades." Everybody understands that a countervailing power to Beijing is necessary and the US is it. It's the only country that can keep Beijing from running wild.

Why point out the obvious? Because there are those in this country who still persist in promoting juvenile nationalism, blind anti-Americanism fueled by outdated Cold War propaganda. Well, times have changed my dear Jomanians and we have to adjust to new realities: a former oppressor is now our bodyguard against a future oppressor, yesterday's imperialist is now our only protection against tomorrow's imperialist. 

The best national security decision made so far is to allow the US access to Subic and Clark.  We are not selling out, we are simply doing what is best for us, at this time and under the circumstances. If Vietnam can open Cam Ranh Bay to a former enemy why can't Subic and Clark be made available to an old friend and ally? Besides, there is a commonality of national interest between the US and the nations around the South China Sea: the US wants freedom of navigation, we want freedom from Beijing's incursions into our seas.

Will the occasional US visits turn into permanent US bases? Maybe they could but it definitely won't happen anytime soon. The US cannot afford permanent overseas bases right now, "places not bases" is the new Pentagon mantra. Besides, experience has shown that bases agreements are messy and expensive while visiting or status of forces agreements are neater and cheaper, both for the US and the host country, so why go back to it?

The Jomanians' fear that US bases will return and become US territory once again is not grounded on reality, it comes from robotic thinking. We have to celebrate a new era in Philippine-US relations instead of mindlessly chanting slogans that give Beijing an erection.
Another thing to keep in mind is the new US Pacific strategy does not stand on access to Subic and Clark. The US can port its ships and land its planes in India, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and soon in places like Cam Ranh Bay. We need US presence to fend off China more than the US needs Philippine hospitality to keep the sea lanes open to navigation. We have to live with that reality until we become strong enough to stand up to China or any other ambitious neighbor.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms

Comments

More Philippine Defense News

AFP Modernization 2017: Highlights and Review

The modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines was on a roll this year, as we've seen a few big ticket items having completely delivered this year. Game changers as they say, these new assets have proven their capabilities both in combat and humanitarian missions.

Here's a brief on everything what we know about the AFP modernization this 2017.

Philippine Air Force  FA-50PH


The final batch of the FA-50PH Lead-In Fighter Trainers have been successfully delivered by the Korean Aerospace Industries last May. The last batch of 2 arrived on May 31st at Clark Air Base. The contract consist of 12 FA-50's at the price of Php 18.9 billion. AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla mentioned on a March 23 article in Inquirer that there are plans to purchase 6 more additional FA-50's if the funding allows it and if the performance is good.

FA-50PH Weapons - AIM-9 Air-to-air Missiles
Aside from the aircraft itself the Department of National Defense also ordered AIM-9

DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the p…

Special Forces Assault Boat and the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation

Special Forces assault boats to beef up patrols in Davao Gulf
Special Forces assault boats will soon patrol Davao Gulf to detect and deter piracy and terrorist threats in southern waters.

Two of these boats were formally turned over by Special Forces Regiment commander Brig. Gen. Ramiro Manuel Rey to Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal in Davao City on Tuesday, the EastMinCom said in a statement.

Madrigal said the boats will be “an additional capability in securing the municipal waters in the area of responsibility, particularly Davao Gulf, to preempt terrorists, piracy and other security threats from using the sea lanes in their terrorist and criminal acts. It can also be used for water search and rescue operations.”

The boats have counter/anti-terrorist capability and will be manned by Special Forces Riverine troopers.

The boats will be initially deployed with Joint Task Force Haribon which has the jurisdiction of Mega Davao, the Eastern Mindanao Command said.

Ori…