United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of being the most “flagrant” violator of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with an “intensifying” bullying pattern evident in the South China Sea and unlawful energy surveillance and activities in the Philippines’ economic zone.
The US has urged all governments, parties and institutions around the world to assess the risk and reconsider business deals with the “predatory” Chinese state-owned enterprises including the company central to militarization and coercion in the South China Sea.
The blacklisting of Chinese companies and Pompeo’s announcement on the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese individuals, including executives of state-owned enterprises responsible for Beijing’s reclamation, construction and militarization of disputed outposts and coercion of Southeast Asian claimants are in line with the new US policy on Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.
As Washington announced the sanctions against 24 Chinese state-owned companies, including subsidiaries of the China Communications Construction Co. that is involved in a $110 billion airport project in Sangley Point, Manila; it is ironic that the Philippines, despite being one of the most affected countries by the Chinese bullying, especially in the West Philippine Sea; refuses to follow the lead of the US.
Despite the friendlier relations with our powerful and aggressive neighbor, Chinese ambitions in the disputed areas have not been reined in and to add insult to injury, the billions of dollars of promised trade and loans have not yet materialized. Allowing the Chinese state-owned companies blacklisted by the US for their involvement in the construction of artificial islands on territory disputed by the Philippines reeks of desperation and weakens the position of not only our country, but also that of other countries which unlike us, have at least been standing up for themselves when it comes to defending disputed territories from the greedy neighborhood bully.
We should already know by now how turning a blind eye to flagrant violations never ends well, especially for the victim of the abuse.
Hopefully the Philippine government can still act decisively and push back in a calibrated manner before it’s too late.*