Gleaning from the recent remark of Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying in a meeting with our chargé d'affaires Alex Chua in Beijing, China is in no mood to back down any time soon.
Instead, China is threatening us with dire consequences for escalating tension in the disputed territories. I must say that this is quite a creative spin. By pinning us down as the instigator, it is acting lily-white and blaming us solely for the conflict.
But wait a minute! How can we be the intruders if we are the ones being intruded upon? How can we be the invaders when we are the ones being invaded? And how can we be the bullies when we are the ones being bullied? Something is not quite right here.
I have no doubt that China is more than capable of using not only fear and intimidation, but also, deadly force to back its alleged claim. And I am reasonably convinced that it’ll use any means without hesitation or reservation to achieve its selfish ends.
Why is this so? Simply, because it can!
China is now a hegemon. This means that it can do whatever it wants without regard or respect for the life and dignity of others. As a hegemon, there is a dominant way of thinking that it regards as a given—an ethnocentric attitude that structures the way it is supposed to behave. It’ll be very difficult for a hegemon to act differently from what is expected. As the saying goes: “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.”
Take for instance this classic example: China’s historical claim as the “Middle Kingdom” and the peopling of its tributaries by the Sons of the Yellow Emperor. This powerful hegemonic idealization creates and rationalizes the drive for geopolitical dominance over real or perceived subordinated states in terms of political, military, or economic advantages.
And since the Philippines happened to be smack dab within China’s alleged sphere of influence, sometimes the hegemonic impulse kicks in and turns destructively self-fulfilling.
Under these circumstances, maybe we are merely sitting ducks. Maybe, there is not much we can do but sit on the sidelines and watch the powerful United States duke it out with China. Or maybe, we just have to bite the bullet and try to make sense of what will be left for us. I know that whatever outcome this conflict will bring, we will likely get the short end of the stick. As the old African saying goes: “When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled down.”
And yet, I refuse to concede that there is nothing that can be done. I still believe that history does not necessarily mean destiny. I like to think that there is something about China that is more reasonable and more responsible, even as a hegemon. I think it is the realization that despite its superpower status, it is still a responsible member of the “community of nations,” highly regarded and highly respected by many.
I know it is not my place to appeal or demand something because I don’t possess the stature or the position to do so. I am just one of the many Filipinos who wish to coexist with China in peace and harmony.
May I therefore ask the People’s Republic of China to explore with Filipino leaders the possibility of reasonably settling the territorial disputes without the threat or use of military force? I am sure we all can do a lot better than stir each other’s fear and hatred.
Would the People’s Republic of China consider resolving these matters with us within the framework of the international community?