Key elements to achieve peaceful resolution of conflicts over Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands

Communist Party of the Philippines
April 21, 2012

It is a matter of principle for the Filipino people to assert national sovereignty and territorial integrity over the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. It is also a matter of principle for the Filipino people to demand a peaceful resolution of the conflicting claims through diplomatic negotiations on the basis of equality, respect and mutual benefit.

To achieve all this, the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces demand the following:

1) For the Chinese government to stand down, put an end to its aggressive posturing, pull back its armed patrol ships from the Scarborough Shoal, and recognize and respect existing international agreements including the Declaration of Code of Conduct which it signed with other ASEAN countries in 2002 calling for the peaceful resolution of the sovereignty disputes through multilateral negotiations.

2) For the US government to pull out all its interventionist troops in the Philippines, put an end to the so-called joint military exercises and cease all power projection activities in the South China Sea including the rotational docking of large American aircraft carriers in the Philippines, Singapore and Australia.

3) For the Aquino government to stop insisting on US interference and getting it to support the Philippine claim by building up its military presence in the country and in the South China Sea region, revealing its hypocrisy and making a mockery of international multilateral mediation processes.

Of these, the most crucial and key element is the demand for the US to put a stop to its interventionism in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific. Otherwise, if the US government continues asserting its ultra-national right to intervene in the region, it would be impossible to achieve a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes.

US imperialism has been building up its US military presence in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific region in recent years, especially since 2010. US government declarations of an "American Pacific century" late last year has further boosted US military thrusts into the Philippines and the South China Sea region.

It is plainly obvious that the increased military presence of the US in the region is meant to encircle China and put increasing pressure on it to further open its economy to US capital investments and commodities, further break down and privatize its state-supported enterprises and make it more compliant to US economic, political and foreign policy dictates. The US intends on setting up an American military perimeter around China in an effort to control and set limits on China's growth as an economic, political and military power.

The increasing aggression of Chinese claims over disputed areas in the South China Sea in recent years is preceded by earlier US military buildup. Increasing American military presence in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific has provided China with the compulsion to make aggressive claims of sovereignty over areas which can be viewed as comprising its international perimeter. As an international capitalist power with strong claims of national sovereignty, China will not sit back and allow the US to encircle it.

Prior to this, China has exhibited willingness to engage in multilateral negotiations to peacefully settle conflicting sovereignty claims, as shown by its signing of the 2002 Code of Conduct with the ASEAN member countries. Without the threat of US military encirclement, China can be objectively expected to negotiate on the basis of mutual respect and equality.

The aggressive posturing of China regarding the Scarborough Shoal conflict may be construed as showing imperialist tendencies and should be criticized as such. However, the development of China as an international capitalist power has not yet reached such heights for it to seek territorial annexation to such a degree as would cause a redivision of the world. Still, China should be reminded that its pugnacious attitude regarding the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal tends to increase hostilities.

China can set itself apart from the US imperialists by projecting itself as a humble giant. It would serve China more if it instead sought alliances and built solidarity with the Filipino people through deepgoing cooperation to help build the industrial base of the Philippine economy and provide it with technological and market support, rather than simply making the Philippines serve as a dumping ground of Chinese surplus products and source of cheap minerals and other raw materials. Such a policy of economic cooperation will also demonstrate the backwardness of the neoliberal policy-dictates of the US and IMF-WB which stunt Philippine economic growth and subject it to foreign exploitation and plunder. It can also build solidarity with ASEAN countries and boost a region-wide clamor for neutrality and demilitarization and the pullout of all US troops from the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

It is outrightly hypocritical for the Aquino regime to make sovereignty claims over the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal and denounce China while paving the way for US military intervention and giving the US imperialists free rein to use the Philippines as a platform of its anti-China operations. It is the height of mendicancy that in exchange for a few obsolete, second-hand and discarded war materiƩl, Aquino is allowing the US to regularly dock its warships, station and operate its surveillance drones, set up its communications infrastructure, carry out intelligence and combat operations, support and participate in counter-guerrilla warfare--all in outright violation and contempt of Philippine sovereignty.

It is now clear that Aquino's heightened sovereignty claims over the Spratlys and anti-China pronouncements since 2010 is part of the US propaganda drive to justify increased US presence and power projection in the South China Sea region. Aquino's insistence on US military presence by invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 makes a mockery of international mediation processes and widespread clamor for the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes. A peaceful resolution of the conflict cannot be achieved if the US continues to militarize the area and promote an arms buildup.