• China and Russia thrive on annexations

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    THE world is not really back to the days of the Cold War, the bipolar word of the past. All countries, except for a few not tied up to global trade, are pledged to openness and cooperation of some sort, more so when that supposed commitment to openness suits their trading agenda. Just look at China zeal for openness when it comes to its exports. But do not expect the old antagonisms to just fade away. Do not expect China—and Russia for that matter—to honor the international court rulings and international mediations that do not favor their self-interests.

    Belligerence has been part of China’s stock-in-trade relationship with the world despite its pledge to be a part of the global order. Ditto with Russia. Right now that the two giants are facing major economic challenges, expect intensified belligerence, not reason and sobriety. And the main strategy to defy the norms of the so-called Free World is to annex territories on the flimsiest of reasons. Then brazenly defy the international courts sought to mediate on their territory-grabbing binge. The nine-dash line, or the basis of China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea, belongs to a cartographer’s wildest fantasies. It is pure and unalloyed territorial fiction. But look at how tight China clings to that fantasy.

    So after the favorable ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration, at The Hague, which essentially sides with the Philippines on its territorial dispute with China, the latter’s reaction would be to fast-track its military and infrastructure buildup in the areas deemed as part of Philippine territory. The Chinese patrols will intensify. The harassment of Filipino fishermen in the disputed area will increase in frequency. So-called Chinese intellectuals will run tons of intellectual garbage at the state-controlled media outlets to disparage the Court’s ruling.

    Chexit? It is just like the Politburo relaxing its grip on power to make the urgent, transitory steps to turn China into a fully representative democracy. It is just like Vladimir Putin dropping out and fading away from the politics of Russia to take a more relaxed job of judo instructor.

    The defiance can be fully explained. You don’t need to go deep into sophisticated geopolitics to find out the fundamental reasons that drive, that undergird, the defiance.

    If there is one thing that passionately stirs nationalist, nativist fervor, it is the act of annexing a territory. The annexation of Crimea by Putin through force, on the flimsy basis of “self-determination,” gave China’s leader an instructional on how to pursue its naked ambitions over the West Philippine Sea.

    Putin saw the turmoil created by the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 as a chance to grab Crimea, put in place a puppet government and declare a farcical “Republic of Crimea.” There was even a stage-managed referendum to supposedly show the majority vote for the annexation.

    Crimea and its strategic location was not only Putin’s prize; there were more, which China’s leaders took note of.

    The annexation, for once, unified Russia. Even the most militant of Putin’s political foes fell in line with the Russian leader on that decision. Whatever troubles Putin then faced were brushed away by the surge of nationalist fervor that was the aftermath of the annexation.

    With his resources-based economy now in deep trouble, Putin is now stirring more of that nationalist fervor to divert attention from his country’s economic woes.

    That has not been lost on China.

    The global condemnation of China’s acts of aggression within the West Philippine Sea gives comfort, not unease, to the Chinese leadership. Annexation brings about a sense of national purpose, stirs a sense of pride and fervor, on the aggressor. With the economic growth of China now stalled, with its prodigious manufacturing and exports now hurt by a global slowdown, China can no longer rest on its title as “Factory to the World” to give its citizens a source of extreme pride. There has to be something else.

    So it has to find a new sense of national purpose. And claiming territories based on the flimsiest of claims but through acts of aggression, puts in place a new national narrative that the citizens can rally behind with all the enthusiasm and fervor. With the aid of a state propaganda machine that churns out all those scary stories on US military bullying, citizens now believe deeply that China is the bullied party and the Court at The Hague is part of the conspiracy against China.

    Even China’s internal dissidents have been quiet on China’s baseless territorial ambitions.

    China is bold because of its superior military, about two decades of rapid military buildup and a standing army of over 1 million. The Philippine military is a puny thing that can’t fight on land, on air and on the sea.

    Without support from outside, the Philippines can’t even defend itself in case of war. China, within hours, can turn the whole country into siomai.

    One last word on the China issue: Let Justice Carpio talk on what the Court’s ruling is all about. The rest just muddle up the issue.

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    11 Comments

    1. Putin saw the turmoil created by the Ukrainian Revolution ………..put in place a puppet government and declare a farcical “Republic of Crimea.”

      Your line above showed how ignorant you are on what happened in Ukraine and Crimea.

    2. vic penetrante on

      Justice Carpio suggests tourism facilities for the man-made islands. The runways China built could be rumps for international fashion shows, beauty contests, or filled with nude women like in Cleveland by American photographer Tunick.

    3. Most people, myself included, believe that the Chinese leadership are educated, cultured and rational people who are out to promote China’s interests as much as possible.

      Making siomai out of Philippine cities would quickly change that, not to mention rain fallout around the world including China. That would be like MVP hiring hitmen to massacre the management of the other conglomerates. It’s not going to happen, and it would hurt China more than the Philippines to even make the threat.

      As for annexation, I don’t think the leadership is interested. What they want is for other countries and cultures in Asia to admire China and Chinese culture, and consider it to be the leader to follow.

      In the SCS, China is having to put the soft power project to the side because hardliner factions representing fishing and military stand ready to accuse moderates of being ‘soft’ on national security.

    4. The great French Philosopher (not Pilosopo) Alexander Pope said “A little learning (not knowledge, but applicable to many press people) is a dangerous thing.”

    5. well give china the doze of his own medicine at to russia. if i am the US or UK i will also dealt china with its own nine dash line over the the north china sea. then will see how it will react.

    6. francis liew on

      This farcical report is so blase that even American running dogs would yawn. For example, Russia annexed Crimea? Please do not write on anything in which you only have a superficial knowledge. it makes informed people cringe, yes literally cringe at your profound ignorance. How can a Russian state annexed a territory in which 90% of the population is Russian is beyond me and tell me who does Crimea belongs to before 1956. I can tell you who the Philippines belong to before 1945 and Filipinos are not 90% Americans. Russia economy is in trouble because it is resource based? Far out dumb one. If your economy is resource based, then you are self sufficient in resources. You only need to dig, process and use. What’s so difficult about that?
      Economic growth of China stalled? Does two quarters of 6.7% economic growth indicates that it is stalling? How much did American grows in the last two quarters? How much did the Philippines grow in the last two quarters? You are not a serious writer, a hack maybe.
      Without support from outside, the Philippines can’t even defend itself in case of war. China, within hours, can turn the whole country into siomai….
      I like your choice of words especially “siomai”. It shows that Sino-Philippine culture is strong and entrenched. There will be no war between fraternal comrades. Can’t say that for the gringos, hell bent on asserting their views on the SCS. They said that 5 trillion dollars worth of trade that passes through the SCS every year is endangered. Seriously when did China said it will block all traffic through the SCS? Wouldn’t that be like cutting your nose to spite your face since most of the traffic is China bound anyway? The gringos must be punched drunk on rum and hashish.

      • Please, informed person, can tell us how a piece of land that was such a part of Ukraine before, that Moscow wrote rental checks to Kiev for using the port of Sebastopol, whose residents were travelling g around the world using Ukrainian passports, whose schools taught the children they were part of Ukraine, legitimately become a part of Russia?

      • SCS traffic includes Australia/Europe/Mideast/Africa/ASEAN to Japan/Korea/Taiwan/Americsn west coast and vice-versa.

        Also ASEAN to ASEAN.

        Even east coast of South America to North Asia travels via SCS if the ship is too big to pass Pansma Canal.

      • Ruben Pacquing on

        Mr. F. Liew, gone are the days when the world is mystified with China and their culture, the Dragon, a Shaolin fighting hundreds of enemy by himself and crisscrossings on top of the bamboo orchards, all the medicinal herbs that can cure almost everything, those were the years when the Great Chairman Mao lanlocked you “we” in the outside world does not know what was going on, we were mystified, until on 1972 when Mr. Richard Nixon visits the enclosed China, out of the worlds community symphatized on your flight with the Chairman, we started patronizing your country, the West help you economically, but now we found out that you guys are “bogus” and “fakers” with no integrity and no regards for the invironment, you took us for a ride and we had enough of your BS, please do not push your luck too much.

      • A-Ben, Crimea has been Russian for as long as the USA was independent! Most citizens identify as Russian and not Ukrainian, and have tried numerous times since 1991 to become part of Russia but to no avail (because Russia back then was too weak and poor, and Yeltsin did not think anything would happen to compromise Russia’s hold on Sevastopol) – until that US-backed Neo-Nazi-infested government took over Kiev in 2014!

        The reason for the US move was to steal the Crimean base from Russia, which was extremely strategic to them! It just so happened that the Crimeans already wanted to be reunited with Russia in the first place, which made Russia’s job far easier! Everything the USA did with its allies (sanctions, etc) is all sour grapes!