Balancing PH-U.S.-China Relations Amid Escalating Geopolitical Risks and “Aid Programs”

THERE are now “live wires” that could ignite at any time and produce a conflagration in the Indo-Pacific region that may be beyond the destruction wrought by World War II. Indeed, it is quite ironic that despite the term “Pacific”, the area is today the focus of a geopolitical tussle. The United States continues to pressure the Philippines not to buy wheat, oil, natural gas, fertilizers, etc. at affordable prices to Russia while selling expensive arms and ammunition to Taiwan, in violation of the US “One China” policy. Naturally, this angers China. The United States, it seems, will never stop antagonizing the dragon, China, hoping that the latter will start another war in the Indo-Pacific, most likely in Taiwan, similar to what the United States did by pushing the eye of the Russian bear into Ukraine. . The action of the United States ultimately provoked the bear attack and caused military havoc in Ukraine and economic havoc in the rest of the Western world – mainly due to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. to Russia, which have turned against him and are causing immense hardship to hundreds of people. millions of people, including Americans.

Kristie Kenney visits then Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim in 2008. COLLAGE BY IDSI

The Philippine Constitution states: “The state shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right of self-determination. ” It is therefore incumbent on all presidents and government officials of the Philippines to balance its foreign policy so that it is independent of foreign influence.

Maintain an independent foreign policy

How can this be put into practice? If our Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) purports to “protest against any act by foreign entities that threatens and undermines the country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and legitimate maritime rights”, then any country that owns one of its ships , fishing boats, airplanes, submarines, etc. entering Philippine areas without our permission should receive the necessary diplomatic protests in the same way. Areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty include those covered by the 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the United States, and areas over which the Philippines has sovereign rights as defined by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (Unclos), and other UN Documents.

During previous administrations, whenever it came to the Philippines’ “allies” such as the United States and Vietnam violating the Philippines’ sovereignty or national interest, the country was reluctant to file a protest. diplomatic.

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The Philippines, led by then-Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., had itself said it had filed more than 300 protests against unprovoked Chinese illegal activities in the Western Philippine Sea. In the same vein, the DFA had only filed six protests against Vietnam’s illegal activities in the legitimate maritime areas of the Philippines, even though Vietnam occupies many more areas and continues to expand its claims in the South China Sea and Then Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana said the most frequent poachers in Philippine waters are the Vietnamese.

The DFA did not mention any diplomatic protests against the United States, despite reported violations by the United States, including but not limited to open United States support for the then-rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which received Barrett’s death. rifles from the United States and were used to annihilate the so-called “SAF 44”. In fact, in violation of diplomatic protocols, then-US Ambassador Kristie Kenney visited rebel MILF headquarters on February 19, 2008. Darapanan, then MILF headquarters, was just a simple “private tour”. How can an “allied” ambassador have a public personality and a private personality?

Media reports of the latest French court ordering Malaysia to pay $15 billion to the heirs of the Sultanate should also remind their readers of the repeated betrayals of the US and UK over our Sabah claims. Indeed, if you have an “ally” like this, you no longer need an enemy. But still, the DFAs of the past made no diplomatic protests regarding these very serious issues.

The true face of American aid

During this time, the United States used the “soft approach” through its so-called strategy of low-intensity conflict or subtle manipulation, using the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) to try to win the hearts and minds of countries like the Philippines. .

MCC entered into 37 grant agreements with 29 countries from 2004 to 2019, originally planned for $5 billion per year, but the US Congress appropriated only a meager $900 million per year from 2011, which caused increased resistance and abandonment from recipient countries, according to the report published by the US Congressional Research Service. Recipient countries have also complained about MCC’s political interference.

In 2016, Tanzanian critics criticized the MCC for its interference in the local presidential election. A classic CIA operation, the MCC announced it would suspend its partnership with Tanzania amid souring relations, which then-Tanzanian President John Magufuli saw as an opportunity to shake off his reliance on American donors – good riddance. The same year when the United States delayed MCC aid programs in the Philippines under the guise of “human rights”. Afterwards, President Rodrigo Duterte replied that the Philippines would not comply with the conditions imposed by the United States to receive aid and even ordered an end to the taking of used American military equipment. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is expected to maintain the position of the Duterte administration.

In 2017, MCC marked two strategically important South Asian countries: Nepal and Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government refused the offer on the grounds that “the MCC is an instrument of neo-imperialism pursuing economic hegemony over the poorest countries”. Nepal then became the target of this American strategy, but Nepal has since balanced its relations with the United States, China and India.

Smaller developing countries facing the challenges of post-pandemic economic recovery will now also have to prepare for and navigate a world where geopolitical rivalries are intensifying and more hostile. There are now models of success and failure for those willing to learn and adopt.

Dr. Mario Ferdinand Pasion is Phil-BRICS Director of Strategic Studies and President of Nationalist Filipinos Against Foreign Intervention.

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