- Published on Thursday, 21 June 2012 00:00
By A Web design Company
‘Beijing certainly is a bully. But being a blundering regional military power it certainly isn’t.’
WITH the various departments appearing to be unable to get their act together on the Scarborough Shoal row, perhaps it is time to name the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources as the lead agency in dealing with China.
The fisheries bureau is harmless. It can never be mistaken to be a threat. Sending BFAR vessels, in fact, would be taken by China as a prudent, mirror image of the steps it has taken so far to protect its claimed interest in the area.
The BFAR might as well be also designated as unofficial spokesman. It cannot do worse than the worthies at the Palace, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense who seem to be constantly reading from different playbooks.
Nobody, for example, is sure whether Chinese vessels have pulled out in response to a similar move by the Philippines. The DFA says it will ask the DND. DND says it will immediately send a surveillance plane to check. The Palace says if the overflight shows Chinese vessels are still there, then Philippines vessels will be ordered to return.
Public disclosure of intentions is certainly not the way to conduct negotiations on easing tension in the disputed territory. China’s position, in contrast, is articulated solely by the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.
We can say anything about Beijing, It certainly is a bully. But being a blundering regional military power is not among them. It has a history of dealing with other countries spanning over two millennia and ostentatious flexing of muscles is not its way.
It bears repeating that the current standoff in Scarborough was preceded by announcements by Manila that it would be sending a newly acquired second-hand cutter from the US Coast Guard to secure its claim.
The cutter, newly commissioned as a Philippine Navy warship, then proceeded to the area and tried to arrest Chinese fishermen and their vessels for poaching in the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. This was stupid, siccing a warship on unarmed civilian vessels.
But the Chinese again let the provocation pass. Unarmed vessels of the Chinese maritime agency interposed themselves between the fishing boats and warship, forcing the latter to let go of the former. That’s how laughable our maritime capability is. A warship was surrounded by fishing boats. It turned tail and went back to base purportedly replenish fuel and provisions.
We are outmatched and outclassed in the Scarborough standoff. Period. So let us stop strutting around and instead devote out efforts to finding a diplomatic solution.