My Prison is Your Freedom (Part 1 of 2)

“The US interest is not in particular claims on any of the land features but rather in the continued free flow of commerce in this region of the world,” the White House official told reporters. “That has significant consequences for the global economy and significant consequences for the US economy.”

Well, take note that China is the world’s biggest trading power and the South China Sea is a strategic waterway through which most of the trade with China passes. Should China be any less concerned about safeguarding the security of its own lifeline? Why is the US more interested in a waterway of utmost importance to China’s national security and interests than China itself?

Isn’t all this reminiscence of Western gunboat diplomacy during the “Century of Humiliation” to enforce “Freedom of Trade”, in Opium?

“Freedom of Trade” then; “Freedom of Navigation” now. It seems like China always falls prey to the defense of “Freedom” huh?

The US claims it doesn’t recognize Chinese exercising sovereignty over reclaimed islands in the South China Sea and its Navy thus challenges that in the name of “Freedom of Navigation”. Given that Chinese sovereignty is disregarded by the Americans, doesn’t that also legalize a land invasion of those islands? The US can practically launch an amphibious assault on such Chinese reclaimed lands, unopposed, under the guise of “Freedom of Navigation” enforcement.

The US also doesn’t recognize Japanese ownership claim with regards to the official status of Diaoyu Islands, or Senkaku islands at the heart of a bitter territorial spat between Tokyo and Beijing in the East China Sea. So, why can’t the Chinese military fly their planes and steer their ships wherever international law allows?

However, the US has awarded Japan, administrative rights over Diaoyu, or Senkaku. What is the difference between Administrative and Sovereign rights? Now, which international law is the US following in this area?

The US is sending a clear signal to the international community: I dictate by the rule of my guns. What can you do about it? Beware of US manipulation of international law at will.

I have often heard of arguments for pragmatic Chinese diplomacy. But, do you really think repeatedly being cowed is a reflection of pragmatism?

China is the biggest stakeholder in South China Sea trade. Yet, this busy shipping route is held hostage to the US navy?

I still remember vividly the public US announcement of shaping Sino-American bilateral ties in the mold of Japan-US relations. Mind you, the US has been maintaining the largest overseas military deployment on Japanese soil. Problem is, will the US even tolerate a China that is on par with today’s Japan, in terms of average wealth per capita?

It belies the notion that Asian-Pacific countries are leaning toward the US out of increasing Chinese assertiveness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Not hesitating to smash the sovereignty of independent nations at will, the US has been more aggressive than almost everyone else. Is any ASEAN country making any serious complaint about that? Who are we kidding?

For long, the facts don’t support an assertive China. Instead, China faces the military buildup on disputed South China Sea territories such as artillery deployment and airstrips, and offshore oil and gas drilling activities conducted by other countries on part of China’s Nansha Islands. Yet, some major regional partners have seemed to turn a blind eye to this development.

Do you expect the biggest regional stakeholder to swallow in silence, such blatant encroachment of its core interests forever?

I am gonna sound a stern warning here…This is a crisis that China mustn’t brush off. If you don’t stand your ground at critical junctures, then expect to suffer a heavy fall, again. There will be no World War 3. Rather, it was exactly China’s repeated giving in to Japanese demands that emboldened the invaders, ultimately ushering in WW2, into the Chinese heartland and beyond the Asia-Pacific.

Some keep alluding to China veering off the path of “peaceful rise”. What logic is this?! Being peaceful doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you. The widely recognized term “peaceful rise” comprises of 2 words. Apparently, a few have been wildly audacious in exploiting this Chinese keenness on peaceful development.

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