China’s flawed diplomacy

Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

The recent exchange of barbs (or is it communiqués?) between the Philippines and China has created a gap in the diplomatic relations of the two countries. The latest incident involved Chinese ships blocking the path of a Philippine ship bringing supplies to soldiers manning the hotly disputed Ayungin Shoal. This rash of events lately has created a furor of sorts as regards the violation of territorial rights both claimed by the two countries. The action of the Philippines to submit this problem to international arbitration for resolution has compounded the diplomatic row we are experiencing with the opposing country.

Although the current dilemma seems to have drawn international attention, it should not compel the two countries into consigning it into a situation that the two countries will regret in the future. It is not for this column, however, to pass judgment on the authenticity of both parties’ claim but the matter should be peacefully resolved with the countries settling the issue with a sober mind.

Despite the clear and obvious correctness of claim of ownership of the disputed territories by the Philippines, China refuses to yield; its claims mainly based on semantics; that it is within the South China Sea (but what’s in a name?). Its refusal to yield to the obvious territorial right of the Philippines is anchored on military might that is obviously superior than even some of the most advanced countries.

It is obvious that China is out to prove something with the outside world with its continuous defiance of the call for settlement of the territorial dispute. Its unremitting presence is meant to maintain and supplement the economic growth that has reached its peak and bound to go back to the ground if they do not act fast. And the only way to do this is by claiming territories with vast and potential natural resources which they can exploit to their advantage.

All claims that both parties try to dispute should and must be anchored on legal grounds and not be touted as provoking the other party into a physical or political melee. We live in a world of reason where men act for reasons and not emotions. And China should submit itself to the bounds of the law and not provoked by erroneous actions that may prove to be “catastrophic” later on.

Despite the lower growth forecasts by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank, Philippine economic and business experts see a robust economy by the end of the current year. Notwithstanding the effects of possible accelerated inflation forecast to be within 4 to 5 percent, it will nevertheless be cushioned by high consumer and fiscal spending brought about by the massive rehabilitation program in the typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayan region. Consumer spending will continue to sustain our growth in the local arena, complemented by the continuous remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) which actually keep the local economy afloat by way of increased foreign currency reserves.

Local monetary authorities, in their effort to control the inflation rate, have acted by way of increasing banks’ reserve requirement to 20 percent in an effort to siphon off excess liquidity in the economy.

Investment spending will be fuelled by the massive rehabilitation effort to be undertaken by the government in partnership with the private sector in the next months or so. And this is expected to sustain the drive for employment and consumer spending in the next three years or so.

The people who are watching the development of the current pork barrel drama going on in the Senate are quite ecstatic with the outcome of the Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation. With solid evidence to speak of, three distinguished senators (coincidentally all of them from the opposition) were charged with plunder, a high-profile criminal offense. The people are hoping that this development should proceed until the very end, with the Senate pursuing the accused until their conviction. Many cases of this nature have come and gone and yet not a single big fish from the political arena has been convicted and served the full jail term.

If ever these should be pursued to the letter, it will be the dawning of a new era in the fight against graft and corruption. It should serve as a warning to all and sundry that never again will corruption be tolerated in public service, otherwise they shall be punished to the full extent of the law.

Warmest birthday greetings to my wife Letty Go Lopez on the occasion of her natal day yesterday…

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