30 August 2013

China Snubs Phil. President

Scarborough Shoal
In an obvious display of international bullying, China has just asked Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to call off a visit next week for the opening of a trade fair. They even insisted that they have never invited him in the first place.

This snubbish behavior exactly shows how disappointed the Chinese are with the way Philippines is addressing both countries' territorial dispute and diplomatic tussle.

It can be recalled the the two nations have been embroiled in increasingly antagonistic conflicts in the South China Sea. Last year, China seized a shoal near the northwestern coast of the Philippines, and this year it demanded that the Philippine navy withdraw from Second Thomas Shoal farther south.

Manila has filed an arbitration case before the U.N. International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, questioning Beijing's claim .

A spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Raul Hernandez, said China had invited the Philippines to send a high-level delegation to the trade fair a few months ago. For the Philippines, you can go no higher than President Aquino, who said a few days ago that he would go.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman's office immediately said that Beijing had not invited Aquino to attend the expo.

"China never extended an invitation to the Philippine president," it said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

However, diplomatic protocol states that when a leader of a nation expresses his or her intention to visit another country, the host nation should extend all possible assistance to accommodate the foreign head of state because it is an important part of international diplomacy. The main point of State visits is to impress to both leaders how very magnificent the ceremonial welcome with the hope that it will lead to much needed respect and subsequent peace between the two countries.

Unfortunately, China does not want any of this to happen. What it wants is most of the South China Sea.

Using its vast military might as a leverage, China is setting itself up directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines. Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the waters and China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

The cancellation of President Aquino's was announced as China was hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers ahead of talks in China next month on how to implement a 2002 agreement on peacefully handling disagreements.

ASEAN nations have been pushing for a code of conduct governing interactions in the area, but China has been reluctant to negotiate with the group as a whole, preferring to deal with nations bilaterally as a way of bringing its full size, economic influence, and political heft to bear on its much smaller neighbors.

"We do not believe one individual position should replace that of ASEAN, and cannot let our own individual relations be affected by one's selfish interests," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

The above statement is clear. China is adopting a "divide and conquer strategy." They don't want to deal with ASEAN as a whole. They want to break them apart in small pieces, then taking them over one by one. Isolating the Philippine President is just a first step.