China as landlord & master. Won't the Philippines do a David?
MANILA: If we can't defeat China in a hand-to-hand combat, let's try a metaphor!
On January 22, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said, "The Philippines had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime disputes with China" over conflicting claims on the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea (ANN, 22 January 2013, guardian.co.uk). "We are all for improving our economic relations with China, but it should not be at the expense of surrendering our national sovereignty." He then handed a note to Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing, signifying that Manila was bringing the dispute to an international tribunal, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).
On February 19, the Chinese Ambassador returned the favor with a note that said Beijing refuses to participate in the UNCLOS arbitration (Joyce Pangco Panares, 21 February 2013, manilastandardtoday.com). "Beijing repeated its long-standing position that it has indisputable sovereignty over the entire waters and formations southeast of China encompassed by its nine-dash line claim." Goliath flexing his muscles.
About China's reaction, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said:
China's action will not interfere with the process of Arbitration initiated by the Philippines on 22 January 2013. The Arbitration will proceed under Annex VII of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the five-member arbitration panel will be formed with or without China.
China is acting true to form. Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman said, "The Philippines has been engaging China in political and diplomatic dialogues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute for the past 18 years, but with no success." David negotiating with Goliath flexing his muscles.
Now, the UNCLOS arbitration will take 3-4 years. While we wait, we shall twiddle our thumb and pray that China, after refusing to participate in the very proceedings, will meekly obey the tribunal's ruling? David forgetting Goliath's challenge for a battle of champions.
Bully to you! Sticks & stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Just now, I have reached the conclusion that if you think China will yield to UN arbitration on the South China Sea imbroglio with its Asean neighbors, I think your thinking is not ancient enough!
The Philippines has submitted its case to the UNCLOS; China has rejected the call for UNCLOS arbitration. The Philippines is arbitral, China is arbitrary.
Like you, I have been thinking China has been acting like a bully to Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, not to mention Japan and the United States, but yes, there is a better explanation, and it's historical. It's also Chinese in character.
In the family of nations, the quarrel over the South China Sea is a family feud. Which reminds me of feudalism. Now, according to William E Griffis, in Europe, feudalism lasted about 1,000 years; in China it lasted much longer ("The Baldwin Project: China's Story," china-holiday.com). The Chinese liked it more; their feudalism lasted from 1122 to 255 BC (mainlesson.com). Who wouldn't like to be landlord & master, the longer the better?
Now then, as feudalism is an old Chinese habit, that is exactly how to look at China's claim of territory that covers virtually the entire South China Sea (ANN, 22 January 2013, guardian.co.uk). China is the landlord & master; the Philippines, and the rest of the Asean countries are the peasants. Bow!
Given that, I'm not advocating what Chairman Mao advocated, which is a peasant revolution. For the West Philippine Sea, I'm advocating that my tiny country, the Philippines, instead do a David.
Remember the story of David and Goliath? It's true; the Bible says so. It went like this. According to The Monastery (catholickingdom.com), the Philistine and Israelite armies faced each other on opposite mountains. From the Philistines' side came down Goliath, who was 11-1/2 feet tall, and he challenged anyone from the Israelites to fight hand to hand. The loser would become the servant of the winner, and all the members of his tribe. Goliath repeated his challenge for 40 days, and nobody dared fight Big Boy. All the Israelites were afraid. Oh men of little faith!
Then David came to King Saul's camp, sent by his father Isai to bring food to his brothers Eliab, Abinabad and Samma, who were fighting with the Israelites; Isai said to inquire about the welfare of his brothers too in the battlefield. With David there, Goliath repeated his challenge, and David said, "Who is this Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Eliab his eldest brother admonished David, who answered back, "What have I done? Is there not a reason to speak?" In other words, David was saying that if nobody else dared fight Goliath, he will. "A boy's will is the wind's will / And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts" (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).
David's words reached King Saul, and he summoned the boy, whereupon David offered to fight Goliath himself. Saul reminded him of his youth and lack of experience in battle. Goliath was a giant and David was a runt; Goliath will strangle him to death. In reply, the boy told the king how he had confronted a lion and a bear that had attacked his father's sheep, caught them and strangled them to death. David said, "The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will also deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."
All right then, Saul had David put on a brass helmet and a coat of mail and armed him with a sword. But as he wasn't used to the warrior stuff, David rejected them in favor of just his staff, sling and some stones. Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord go with you." When Goliath saw him, he mocked him, saying, "Am I a dog that you came to me with a staff? Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air, and to the beasts of the earth." David said, "The Lord saves not with sword and spear; for it is His battle, and He will deliver you into our hands."
Goliath didn't know what or whom he was fighting against. Goliath rushed toward David, and David swung his sling around, and let it fly. The stone struck Goliath on the forehead and stuck there; he fell, and David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword. Seeing their champion dead, the Philistines turned and ran. Oh men of nimble feet!
That's the story from the Bible, the Great Book. Now, what am I trying to say here: That the Philippines fight the modern-day Philistines by throwing The Book at them? And, since we are mostly Roman Catholic, throwing at them volumes of the Magisterium and Holy Tradition as well? No! I don't have that much faith that David had. I am a man of little faith. What I have is smaller than a mustard seed.
What I'm proposing is for the little Davids among us is to look for so many little slings & stones with which to strike Goliath all over his body, not strike dead but down, so that he will be mocked by his own tribe first, then by his extended family, the family of nations. To start, let us gather 5 smooth stones out of the brook of life. We can do it!
So, what and where are those slings & stones? Who will then cast the first stone? That's for me to say and for you to find out!