They’ll dredge until we sink PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 16 April 2017 14:27

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BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — In case you missed reading it (I’m sure that 99.9% did), I’m taking the liberty of reprinting excerpts of an article that appeared in TIME under the heading “Why America is losing Asia.” This article is highly significant considering the political faux pas the Philippine government has committed by allowing China to “invade” our sacred shores. Parallel to this is the difference of direction between the United States and El Presidente in the latter’s bloody crackdown against illegal drugs. The article reads:

“In 2015, a satellite spied barges owned by one of the world’s biggest dredging companies, China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), working at disputed reefs in the South China Sea. The Chinese were busy converting bits of contested rock into seven artificial islands, much to the chagrin of the five other governments with competing claims over the Western Pacific Ocean... which includes military-ready runways and radar nests, calling it ‘a Great Wall of sand with dredges and bulldozers.’ In July 2016, an international tribunal dismissed Beijing’s vast claims over the South China Sea. No matter, China’s new islands will not be unmade.

“CCCC will soon begin more reclamation work in the western Pacific. This time, its crews will be dredging in the Philippines, the long-time U.S. ally that, until recently, had opposed China’s maritime construction. But in October, amid a flurry of deals made during new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Beijing, CCCC won a contract (is this true?-BJ) to develop a harbor in Davao city, Duterte’s hometown where he was once mayor. While in China, Duterte... announced the Philippines’ ‘separation’ from the U.S., proclaiming that in the military and economic spheres, ‘America has lost.’

“Duterte’s decision to cozy up to China happened even before Donald Trump was elected U.S. president...Now, as the president keeps the world guessing on his future statecraft, a larger question has emerged: has America lost Asia?

“For seven decades, as the continent rose from the ashes of World War II, Pax Americana helped keep the peace in Asia. In the Pacific, the U.S. Seventh Fleet ruled the waves, ensuring that container ships could ferry cheap exports abroad and thereby lift hundreds of millions of Asians out of poverty. On land, tens of thousands of U.S. troops died in Vietnam and Korea...Through a network of security alliances — five of America’s seven collective defense treaties are with partners in the Asia-Pacific — the U.S. military tied itself to the world’s most populous region, which today produces nearly 40% of global economic growth...

“During his four years in power, China’s leader (who was in the U.S. with his fashionable wife last week) Xi Jinping, has preached about a ‘Chinese dream’ — stable authoritarianism married with personal enterprise — that supplant an American ideal of democracy and international law. As the U.S. has withdrawn from regional trade initiatives, China is offering up alternatives. Most of Asia now counts China as its largest trading partner...In Indonesia in 2016...Chinese foreign direct investment is set to nearly triple year-on-year. Thailand’s economy depends on Chinese tourists, while massive South Asian ports are being developed to service Chinese trade. With Duterte’s Beijing deals in play, China is likely to surpass the U.S. as the Philippines’ biggest investor next year.

“It’s unclear how much Beijing wants to play superpower. Being the world’s policeman is expensive and exhausting. China is only now building its first overseas military outpost, a tiny base in Djibouti. Nor is it certain that a Trump Cabinet, stocked with military brass and conservatives leery of communism, will retreat from the Asia-Pacific. So far, Chinese foreign policy has been more about Beijing pursuing its perceived national interests — the South China Sea, say, or Taiwan — than articulating some grand ideological narrative.

“Chinese state-media sniping that American democracy is messy and unpredictable is not the same as presenting a workable alternative to the current global order. And for all of America’s inattention and hypocrisy in supporting regional strongmen, the U.S. has made modern Asia a safer and richer place. That landscape — and legacy — will not be easily covered over by Chinese sand.”

By the way, the last sentence of my previous column should have read: El Presidente is a Marcos burlesquer.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 April 2017 14:29