Can the Philippines win in the Spratly standoff with China? I believe so. Not through military might, of course. International pressure will help somewhat, but China doesn’t seem to care about past agreements.
We have to get in the mind of a corrupt institution, in this case, the People’s Republic of China. Like all states, it is its reason for being. As long as it can help it, it will grow in power.
But a state is still composed of humans; it is they who, through the political means of unrequiting expropriation, take more and more. So a solution would have to satisfy this lust. Something must be offered that is more satisfying to Chinese politicians than Scarborough Shoal and the other contentious islands.
PRINCIPLE OF EXCHANGE: GIVE THE OTHER WHAT THEY WANT
|Bring back the good ol’ tariff-free days.|
What can the Philippines offer? For one, a guaranteed termination of ALL export tariffs for all time. That has got to count for something, even for the second-largest economy right? Granted, the Philippines is not a top trading partner of China, but surely a zero-tariff policy would boost the Philippines’ position, while increasing China’s sales tax collections.
What’s more, this is a win for the Filipino consumer, who gets to purchase cheaper goods as an immediate result.
I know it may not sound enough compared to the prospect of billions of dollars in oil projects, but the point is to find similar win-win solutions.
A ‘win-draw’ solution might be to rig oil exploration projects in favor of Chinese companies. They have more capital and it doesn’t matter to us if a foreign or local crony is beneficiary.
ADDENDUM 1: TO APPEASE OR NOT
If there were no adverse consequences, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Philippines give up its claim to the islands altogether. I mean, who cares if it’s Philippine officials or if it’s Chinese officials who have control over the place, ’diba?
But such a concession would not appease for long, before more is demanded, until Filipinos wake up one day without Facebook access (which should be Malacañang’s biggest worry). So, no to simple concession.
ADDENDUM 2: SAVE US, US!
And what of the US? They’re basically helpless. China is holding the dollar for ransom, and a sudden sale of China’s trillions in US Treasuries for gold would be devastating. If it weren’t for the US’ desire to keep the world on a leash, there wouldn’t be any troops left here.
But then, a sudden pullout of the US military, in keeping with sound foreign policy (according to Ron Paul) might be a cue for China to invade us. It isn’t so much the US’ departure that will screw us. The problem is that the Philippines has become dependent on the notion that the US was backing it, to the point that presidential spokesmen say they’re not intimidated by China in spite of our lack of military might.
Anyway, don’t expect a complete pullout of US forces, even if the US has no intention of going to war with China. The US still needs a token affirmation of their presence here.