China is a huge pain in the ass. This is a nation with its brain striving for right-minded ideals like cooperation, freedom, capitalism and wealth while its feet are rooted in the wrong-headed cements of autocracy and thuggish self absorption.
Here are the three national zones of water defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, a synopsis by JoeAm:
- Territorial seas: 12 nautical miles from baseline coast. This is the same as land. It is "owned" by the pertinent nation.
- Contiguous waters: an additional 12 nautical miles (24 nautical miles from baseline coast) in which a nation may "prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary regulations within its territory or territorial sea", and punish violators.
- Exclusive economic zone: generally, but not universally, accepted as 200 nautical miles from baseline coast:
- sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from water, currents and winds;
- jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to:
- establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;
- marine scientific research;
- protection and preservation of the marine environment;
- other rights and duties provided in the Convention.
The exclusive economic zone became important when deep water drilling for oil became prevalent.
The Chinese military frigate that ran aground near Palawan last week poses no real violation of law, as passage through the economic zone is permissible. It was 60 nautical miles from Palawan. However, China's interference with Philippine coast guard patrols at Scarborough Shoal several weeks ago was a clear infringement upon Philippine rights. That is, if the 200 mile economic zone is enforceable by . . . um . . . the UN . . . or guns and bombs.
And a warship patrolling near Palawan is ominous. It is intimidating. It is not friendly.
Here's Joe Am's personal take on all this.
China is a nation that lectures the Philippines as if Filipinos were a pack of learning deficient third graders. "Stop undertaking provocative acts!" the overbearing Chinese ministers exclaim. Meanwhile Chinese warships either cruise or patrol near the Philippine coast and their fishermen blatantly steal coral and protected creatures from Philippine seas to sell as aphrodisiacs for the goblin-spooked Chinese hordes. It would be simpler and kinder to the environment if they would just become Catholic.
I appreciate Secretary Del Rosario's diplomatic largesse in letting the warship incident slide without diplomatic protest. I suppose, like many, he is hoping the Chinese will climb out of the saddle of their high horse and join the ranks of rational man on the ground. I don't hold a lot of hope much will result from this considerate diplomatic gesture.
China is a troublemaker. Plain and simple. Rather than participating as one of many within Asean, it seeks to rule the roost. Indeed, it prefers to deal with countries individually and even went so far this past week as to divide Asean nations. China, with the complicity of chair and host nation Cambodia, refused to sign off on a Code of Conduct aimed at reducing tension in the area. This divided the Asean nations and injected considerable frustration and lack of clarity into the picture.
China left the conference happy.
What kind of values are these, when sowing discord is an achievement?
I'm beginning to think that to understand the Chinese, you have to understand a racist personality, the combination of superiority and inferiority that makes every interaction with a different race (white or Filipino) both condescending and sensitive.
- Condescending. A superior, holier than thou mentality.
- Sensitive. Every act by someone else is a threat if it does not take care of Chinese interests first.
It seems beyond Chinese comprehension to grasp that there are Filipinos inhabiting the islands beyond "their" sea. It seems like the Chinese, if they could comprehend that, would somehow find it offensive.
The nerve of those Filipinos living so close to our territory!
Well, as in all things confrontational, the Chinese must be dealt with. That is our destiny as we respond to other members of our fundamentally stupid human species having big brains that trick them into thinking they know better than others what is in the best interest of others.
Here's what I know.
- The Chinese are not considerate of Filipino interests and sensitivities. They are too self-absorbed.
- The Chinese see enemies everywhere, and indeed, provoke angst, not harmony.
I'm rather of the belief that one cannot fight the preconceived ideas of mentally rigid people, so one might as well accede to their thinking. If China continues this obstinate, bullying track, we should accept that we are their enemy, and they are ours. They can change this understanding whenever they get diplomatically gracious enough to grant that Filipinos belong where they are and are entitled to things like economic ownership of valuable properties.
This isn't my business exactly. I acknowledge that. But it is my interest, and so here is my personal opinion: The Philippines should give nothing to China. And it should defend its territory.
Before doing that, however, President Aquino needs to stop rambling off the top of his head to the media about U.S. over-flights and other things that stoke tensions and muddy the seawaters. He needs to do some specific things. To clarify matters. To eliminate any clouds of confusion.
- Number one. He needs to get a really good cartographer to draw accurately the Philippine economic zone based on United Nations guidelines, 200 nautical miles, or equidistant to other nation's shores (Malaysia). Be reasonable. Reason is the best rule, not greed. Reason is defensible.
- Number two. He needs to announce in a formal speech on the subject that the Philippines considers this map to be a clear and unequivocal statement of the Philippine economic zone, per U.N. standards. Any nation patrolling the Philippine economic zone with military ships, without notice to the Philippines, is considered to be conducting an offensive act, a hostile act, ostensibly aimed at intimidating and blockading the Philippines from pursuing its lawful economic rights. The Philippines will use any means available to cause such nations to cease and desist from these damaging and hostile acts.
- (If China blocks Asean nations from adopting a Code of Conduct, the Philippines will establish one of its own for its exclusive economic zone.)
- Number three. Philippine Defense Secretary Gazmin needs to consult with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta to get a clear understanding of the circumstances that would impel the U.S. to send military assets to defend the Philippines. Would its navy escort Chinese warships out of the Philippine economic zone, by force, if that were requested by the Philippines? (Presumably "no".) Would the U.S. shoot at Chinese ships if Chinese ships shot at Philippine ships? (Presumably "yes".) Demand clarity, for it is not possible to make intelligent decisions with one's head in a fog of un-knowledge.
- Number four. Institute planning for maritime warfare akin to guerilla warfare. The Philippines cannot fight Chinese ships head to head but the Philippines can make Chinese adventurism unbelievably costly.
- Number five. Identify all Chinese businesses in the Philippines and prepare for nationalization of those businesses. If shooting begins, the enemy should not be allowed to profit on Philippine soil. China has more to lose on this deal than does the Philippines. If banana exports fall flat, we can have a national "eat a banana a day" campaign, cut back on rice consumption and sell the extra rice to India.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
Have a happy day.