By Erik Espina
HOW to deal with China with the intransigence of its diplomatic pronouncements supported by actual military encroachments into the West Philippine Sea (WPS)? Further on the horizon, we see flirtatious incursions in the newly named Philippine Rise.
Wars or invasions have been traditionally marked by state declarations and “boots on the ground.” Modern-day warfare, however, manifest more sinister forms of betrothals and in various theaters. They may arrive as guests bearing gifts, multi-billion-dollar grants, slow erosion of domestic business raided by foreign interest, particularly, in areas sensitive to national security such as telecommunications, energy, etc.
Reports circulate of intel and military personnel already here, traveling in many parts of the country as tourists, merchants, etc., as eyes and ears navigating in our midst. There is the evil of smuggling that continues to be a highly profitable concern for businessmen with sentimental roots to China.
This in brief, is the “China Paradigm,” and what to do? In the immediate approach, for policy formation, is the acronym PED – Protests, Engagements, and Deterrence in the international arena versus diplomatic maneuverings and increasing militarization on fabricated islands in WPS. The question is, do we dare draw a red line and announce it to the world? Can we commit to defend such a line whether on sand or in our waters?
We draw parallelisms with Indonesia and Vietnam. A shooting incident with casualties does not lead to total war. It is a sine-qua-non for a sovereign state to advance its national interest. History tells us that appeasement and weakness only leads to emboldened responses and the inertia of disastrous results.