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Bilateralism with China: Diplomacy or capitulation?

I am aware that there are those, who by vocation will belittle my view on how to deal with China as nothing but a faint voice crying out in the wilderness.  I am also aware that there are those, who by profession, will resort to personal attacks rather than intelligently answer my questions about China’s aggression.   For me, these cheap shots are nothing new, particularly, the ad hominems. In fact, I consider them as occasional hazards that “come with the territory,” as they say. And yet, no matter how these forces condescendingly dismiss what I think, as if to say, that my voice is not worth listening to, I cannot be silenced. I refuse to be silenced.   And so, here I go again!   Seventy-four years ago, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, believed that the only way his country could achieve peace with Nazi Germany was through appeasement rather than by confrontation. He believed that Great Britain could avoid war with Hitler by making concessions to an aggressor.   That policy failed.   He was forced to resign after the Germans invaded more territories and was succeeded by Winston Churchill. Today, Chamberlain’s appeasement policy has devolved into a synonym of indecisiveness, weakness, and cowardice in diplomatic relationships.   What about us? Is there anything we can learn from the past? Will our policy of hasty appeasement with China work?   I don’t think so.   First, something is wrong with a policy of appeasement when the aggressor grabs our territory first and then threatens us with force, perceived or actual, to extract an exclusive bilateral negotiation from us.   Why would we allow ourselves to be duped in this manner? What's the rush to appeasement especially when the aggressor keeps creating disputes and sidestepping the international law principle of “ex injuria jus non oritur”?     This Latin phrase which implies that the “law does not arise from injustice,” rules that “any state which obtains land by non-defensive war or such other aggressive actions, cannot claim any legal rights to the land unlawfully obtained (   China has a pathology of violating this principle and unlawfully enforcing its fanciful claims on chains of islets and reefs well within our 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) defined and delineated by international law.   To boost its claims, it starts with planting bouys, followed by establishing concrete markers, and then, building temporary bamboo and wooden shelters for their fishermen. Thereafter, when unchallenged, a permanent military installation is set up. This is what happened to us in 1994 at the Mischief Reef (148 miles or 239 kilometers away from Palawan). China erected temporary bamboo and wooden stilts during the monsoon when the Philippine Navy was not on patrol. We diplomatically protested, but did not act to destroy what the Chinese built. Perhaps, we were scared out of our wits after learning what happened in 1988 to Vietnam and China at the Johnson South Reef in Spratly Islands. Not only Vietnam lost 70 soldiers from the invasion of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), it also lost de facto the reef to China. In 1999, without defending our territory, the Chinese simply constructed a military installation and ejected us from Mischief Reef. To date, China compulsively lays down its claims along our territorial waters around the country.  It already had planted bouys in Sabina Shoal (70 miles or 113 kilometers away from Palawan). It has also built temporary structures in Panatag Shoal (123 miles or 198 kilometers away from Subic Bay), as well as actively patrolling the area. Since this routine of “creeping invasion” persists, I encourage our people not to capitulate and to reject China’s call for an exclusive bilateral diplomacy between our two countries to resolve the maritime disputes.    Second, there is something wrong with the policy of appeasement when it legitimizes an asymmetric relationship in negotiation. I think it’s a classic “divide and conquer" strategy that not only trivializes our sovereignty, but also, restricts our choices.   For example, through exclusive bilateral negotiation, why would we relinquish the rights to explore the resources within our EEZ to China only?  Should we not leave that option open for us to choose whomever we want to work with?     I think this is precisely the reason why China insists on bilateralism. With this diplomatic scheme, China can localize an issue of multilateral and international significance.     As far as we are concerned, I think we must insist on resolving our issue with China via an international venue. Needless to say, we also must closely work with our neighbors from the ASEAN, Oceania, as well as our allies (i.e., Japan, India, and the United States) to synergize with us their short-term and the long-term expectations and interests in the outcomes of any negotiation with China.   For a starter, I am even amenable and would support a multilateral or international policy approach of invoking the 1932 Stimson Doctrine as a token of isolating China in the world for its unfair and unjust treatment of its neighbors.  The doctrine is a policy of non-recognition of international changes executed by force as set forth by the United States government against Japan after its invasion of Manchuria, China.   However, this time, it’s the other way around.