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The China paradigm

By Erik Espina

HOW to deal with China confronted by the intransigence of diplomatic pronouncements and supported by actual military encroachments into West Philippine Sea (WPS)? Further in the horizon, are flirtatious incursions in the newly named Philippine Rise. Sober caveats for coercive “Sino-nization” in our own backyard.

Common history of war or invasions are in the tradition of state declarations, and “boots on the ground”. Modern day warfare however, manifest in more sinister forms of betrothals. They arrive as guests bearing gifts, multi-billion-dollar grants, slow erosion of domestic business raided by foreign interest in areas sensitive to national security like telecommunications, energy etc. Local affinities fronting Beijing investments in real estate, condominiums, among others. Reports circulate PLA (People’s Liberation Army) intel and military personnel already here in many parts of the country as tourists, merchants, etc. as eyes and ears navigating in our midst? There is the evil of smuggling as highly profitable concern for businessmen with sentimental roots to mainland China. The dragon sponsored legerdemain of a modern “Opium War” versus our country? Beijing’s narcotics fueling a burgeoning trade into the Philippines? This is the ‘China Paradigm’, and what to do? Strategic policy is the acronym PED: Protests, Engagements, and Deterrence in the international arena versus Chinese diplomatic maneuverings successfully increasing current militarization on fabricated islands in WPS. Do we dare draw a red line and announce it to the world? Set the limits/conditions for provoked response? Commit to defend such a line in sand or our waters? We gain parallelisms with Indonesia and Vietnam. Shooting incidents with casualties, did not lead to total war! It is a sine-qua-non for a sovereign state to advance its national interest. To defend country and domain to the extent of championing national dignity (even greatness) in asserting self-respect. History tutors, appeasement and weakness only leads to emboldened responses and the inertia of disastrous results.

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