Defense of the Republic of the Philippines

General Discussion => General Discussion => Topic started by: adroth on August 04, 2018, 12:36:11 AM

Title: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 04, 2018, 12:36:11 AM
This thesis attempts to answer the hotly debated question:

"What is happening to Philippine policy with China and the West Philippine Sea???"

While the defense of the Republic of the Philippines is the focal point for this thesis, there can be no effective discussion about defense if it is narrowly confined to weaponry and military / law enforcement considerations alone.

You can't talk about a birthday cake by focusing on the icing while paying no attention to the underlying cake.

Policies made outside the military sphere define what can be done within that sphere. For that reason, proper understanding of the Duterte administration's approach to the China problem in the West Philippine Sea -- regardless of whether the reader agrees with it or not -- is a precondition for meaningful discussions about Philippine sovereignty.

The best way to read this thesis is to proceed linearly, from start to finish, in the order it was written. However, being 30 pages long, this thread index was created to facilitate navigation. Each sub-topic is given it own summary, thus allowing the reader to jump directly to topics of greater interest.

At the end of the day, the goal of the thesis isn't to advocate any single political point of view. It is merely to understand what the current administration is attempting to do . . .

. . . without the noise of partisan politics.

Once that understanding is achieved, then -- and only then -- can the average Filipino come up with an INFORMED opinion of prevailing policies, and meaningfully argue for OR against these policies.

Quote
"If you can't argue the other side, you aren't entitled to an opinion"

- Anonymous

Section   Sub-Section    Description
Chinese timing (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11980#msg11980)                        By 2014, China knew that conditions were right to advance its interests at the expense of its rivals -- and it did.
       United States (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11981#msg11981)       The US was in no shape to mount a conventional war. The two wars-without-end in Iraq and Afghanistan had left the US electorate with little appetite for yet another armed conflict.
     Japan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11988#msg11988)       China's shipbuilding spree has eclipsed the Japanese Coast Guard, both in terms of number and size of vessels.
       Australia (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11989#msg11989)       . . . struggling to contain China within its own sphere of influence: from Vanuatu to Papua New Guinea.

     ASEAN (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11990#msg11990)       While much has been said about Duterte’s refusal to use ASEAN as a venue for protesting Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea, ASEAN had already been defanged years earlier when Cambodia actively blocked any attempt association statements that would be unfavorable to China. First in 2012, then again in 2016.

The scramble for a PH response (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11991#msg11991)                   Open war with China and surrender are invalid options. Justice Antonio Carpio prefers a “third option” that hides behind the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US and diplomacy. But how viable is this option?
Evaluating the 3rd option: UNCLOS (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11992#msg11992)

                   The UNCLOS ruling invalidated China’s 9-dashed line. But it did not actually affirm Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea
Evaluating the 3rd option: MDT (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11993#msg11993)
                   The US-PH MDT was deliberately crafted so that it would not commit the United States to support the Philippines if it did not agree with Philippine claims. Not all mutual defense treaties are created equal.
       Treaty that created NATO (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11994#msg11994)

       The US explicitly guarantees support in the event a member of the NATO alliance is attacked. The commonly held perception is that the  Philippines enjoys the same protection. Careful perusal of the MDT shows otherwise
       Treaty between the US and Japan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11995#msg11995)

       While the US-JP treaty did not guarantee an automatic response, US policy has recognized JP sovreignty over the Senkakus. It is important to understand why the US felt compelled to support Japan
Vietnam’s losses (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11996#msg11996)                   Despite being 8th largest importer of weaponry in the world, whose inventory includes everything from Scud medium-range ballistic missiles, modern submarines, frigates,  multi-role fighters, and surface-to-surface missiles, Vietnam is at the very least in a stalemate with China it can’t hope to outlast.

The Philippine strategy under Duterte, in contrast, has its sights on a more favorable outcome.
Indonesian calculations (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11997#msg11997)                   In addition to a regionally strong military, Indonesia has a lock on certain critical Chinese exports which China needs, is on the outer edge of China’s claims and is not as important as the Philippines and Vietnam, China officially recognizes Vietnam’s claims.
Defining the parameters of the problem (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11998#msg11998)                   A Philippines that defiantly stands up for itself, but lacks, the military strength of Vietnam, the economic resilience and geographical distance of Indonesia, and is dependent on allies that are either threatened by China or are embroiled in other domestic and geopolitical concerns, could very well become low-hanging fruit for a display of Chinese political power. Not so much for international consumption, but for the benefit of the enemy that the Chinese leadership fears most: internal Chinese politics.

The way forward (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11999#msg11999)                   War is clearly not an option, for reasons already detailed earlier and as outlined by the President in his speech above. Surrender would violate the constitution, and is therefore an equally invalid option. The ability to hide behind our allies is questionable as is the validity of the opposition’s 3rd option.

Duterte needed a 4th option

The 4th option (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12000#msg12000)                   If China were a bully, Option 1 (war) would have started a fight with the bully that could only end with us in either a wheelchair or the grave. Option 2, surrender, would leave us with nothing. Option 3 (Carpio, et. al.) would have us pick a fight with the bully while hiding behind a big, but distracted neighbor that retains the option to go to the movies whenever he wants . . . regardless of our fitness to resort to option 1 when we are left alone.

Option 4 would have the bully wonder why he had to act like a douche bag in the first place . . . and learn to play nice. It would not make the bully go away, but would essentially make him leave us alone. All the while . . . wondering who we would side with if he ever decided to picked a fight with our big neighbor.
       What has been prevented (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12001#msg12001)       Fishermen are no longer being water-cannoned away from Panatag. Despite having been occupied since 2012, with island-building campaign gaining momentum, China hasn’t built on anything on Panatag.
       What has already, or is currently, being done (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12002#msg12002)

       Photographic evidence points to improvements on garrisons in the KIG that weren’t done in the previous administration
Implementing the 4th option                   (http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/relations.png)
       Step one: Rebooting PH-CN relations (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12003#msg12003)

       Implement a variation of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” adage, and flipped the strategy into: “to make a friend of my enemy, make him feel like we have a common enemy". This is why Duterte is openly bad mouthing our allies -- who now actually understand that this is all essentially geopolitical theater as part of a plan to jump-start PH-CN relations.

The administration is banking on the strength of US-PH relationships, as well as of those of its traditional allies, to "absorb" the optics of Duterte's over-selling of its Chinese charm offensive. After all, if it really were possible to undo years of good relations with mere words . . . then those relationships really weren't as strong advertised.

         Step two: Acclimatize China to submitting to Philippine law (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12004#msg12004)

     This is about training the dragon to obey commands . . . and setting up test cases to measure compliance.
       Step three: Ongoing cooperation (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12005#msg12005)

       China’s greed, not Philippines weapons, will keep China under control.

This would require even greater commercial engagement with China. So much so that it would actually compel China to respect Philippine law and Philippine claims, to avoid jeopardizing these investments. This would flip the tables on China from one where the Philippines feared Chinese embargoes on Philippine goods to one where China will experience "economic pain" should it choose to violate Philippine interests.

Continued build up of Philippine economic defenses (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12006#msg12006)

                   A sustainable response to Chinese aggression isn't just about buying weaponry, it is actually about making the Philippines -- as a country -- globally competitive.

This is where the build-build-build initiative comes in: Using the dragon’s own resources to create the financial whip to keep him in line.

Learn from the experiences of Sri Lanka, et. al. (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12007#msg12007)

                   This topic outlines how countries fall into China’s debt trap, and how the Philippines actually differs from these in-progress economic disasters.

Pakistan’s gamble (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12008#msg12008)

                   85% of Pakistan’s debt is Chinese. But who REALLY has who under control, in light of Pakistan's geopolitical calculation . . . when Pakistan's economic corridor actually starts on their China's equivalent to Mindanao?

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/cpec.jpg)

Israel & Indonesia: Dancing with a dragon (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12009#msg12009)

                   If loans with China are really recipes for disaster, why are Israel and Indonesia taking part in the Belt & Road Initiative?
A winning endgame rather than a strategy for "how not to lose" (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12010#msg12010)                   Open war and surrender are unacceptable options. Justice Carpio's preferred "third option" -- which puts all its faith on the US-PH Mutual Defense treaty, without a proper assessment of how that treaty really works -- actually lacks a meaningful end-game, and is prescription for "how not to lose" rather than a proper strategy for winning.

To achieve what Carpio wants to do, Duterte's "4th option" needs to be given the leeway to work. The goal of the 4th option is to give China a incentive to respect Philippine law and obey Philippine instructions. That incentive is based on the threat of financial retaliation -- not military force.

Responding to Chinese aggression (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12012#msg12012)                   A thought exercise about how to respond to China in a future conflict
       Trade War (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12013#msg12013) (TW)       Punishing China economically
       Military Action (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12014#msg12014) (MA)       Understanding what it REALLY takes to have our allies commit to the Philippine cause. Duterte’s “4th option” needs to happen before Carpio’s “3rd option”


====

Related discussion on the forum's FB extension:

The need for a whole-nation response: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1779935662092273/

Understanding the PH-US MDT: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1785171944901978/

Indonesian calculations: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1786940381391801/
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 04, 2018, 04:34:29 PM
Chinese timing

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty that would have extended the lease of US military facilities in Subic Bay and Clark Air Force base beyond its original expiration date in 1991. As a result, the bases closed sans a proper Philippine plan for how to fill the power vaccuum that the closure created. That set the stage for the contest of national wills between the Philippines and China which began with an aggressive, but ultimately modest, incursion in Mischief Reef in 1995, and has since escalated to a regional land-grab in the form of Beijing’s unprecedented island building campaign.

By 2014, China knew that conditions were right to advance its interests at the expense of its rivals -- and it did.

United States (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11981#msg11981)
Japan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11988#msg11988)
Australia (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11989#msg11989)
ASEAN (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11990#msg11990)

China knew that our most powerful allies were distracted by all the other concerns listed above, and would lack the political will to halt the construction of their artificial islands. As in all things, timing is everything. China timed their territorial power-play well.

When Chinese dredgers started sacrificing precious coral reefs for their island-building project that reclaimed 1,294 hectares of land from the South China Sea, all that an incredulous world could do was watch in awestruck silence. Rival claimants were left with little to do but fume and protest.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 04, 2018, 04:37:05 PM
United States

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-7.jpg)

The US was in no shape to mount a conventional war. The two wars-without-end in Iraq (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3473.0) and Afghanistan had left the US electorate with little appetite for yet another armed conflict. While the Global War on Terror continues even today, and has even expanded to Africa, these focus on counter-insurgency campaigns -- mounted by special operations forces -- designed to bolster the effectiveness of the armed forces of partner countries. These were not high-profile operations on the scale of either Gulf Wars I or II. In contrast, any direct conflict with China would be.

Domestic challenges associated with sequestration (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2754.0) and the 2008 financial crisis arguably gave additional reason to pause and reconsider the wisdom of committing resources for war. Manifestations of the effect of these constraints on US military spending range from the USAF crisis (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1198.0) with its fighter readiness, to the cancellation (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3666.0) or reduction (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=319.msg8218#msg8218) of big-ticket acquisitions.

Arguably both resulted in an anemic “Pivot to Asia (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3474.0)” that left China emboldened.

The timidity of the US -- and NATO -- response to Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3484.0), as well as successful nullification of the UN Security Council in the matter of the Syrian Civil War (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3485.0) in 2012 -- by way of a joint Russia-China veto, proved to Beijing that it would be able to challenge international order with little consequence to itself.

While the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States remains relevant, proper acknowledgement of the fact that the MDT does not give the Philippines license to do whatever it wants -- and then expect the US defend it blindly -- is essential to any rational geopolitical calculation.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:26:36 AM
Japan

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2-4.jpg)

Japan remains the US’ strongest ally in the region, and remains the Philippines’ top lender. While it has consistently flexed its muscles in response to Chinese aggression in the Senkaku islands (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3277.0), its engagements in the South China Sea remain focused on beefing up regional coast guards (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2975.0).

But even on the matter of Coast Guard strength, China's shipbuilding spree has eclipsed the Japanese Coast Guard, both in terms of number and size of vessels. Therefore a favorable repeat of a Japanese salvage operation in waters that China claimed to be its own, in 2002 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3612.0), is no longer a certainty. By 2015, China had wrestled the title "largest coast guard cutter" from Japan, when it commissioned the 12,000-ton cutter designated CGC 2901 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3611.0).
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:30:59 AM
Australia

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/3-5.jpg)

Another regional partner, Australia, is itself struggling to contain China within its own sphere of influence: from Vanuatu to Papua New Guinea (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3346.0). All this while grappling with the fact that China remains one of its most important trading partners (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3476.0).
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:32:43 AM
ASEAN

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/4.png)

ASEAN was not designed effectively engage China in a territorial dispute. First of all, it is not actually a military alliance the way NATO, or even the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), was. By definition, it is an economic and socio-economic alliance.

From: http://asean.org/asean/about-asean/overview/

< Edited >

AIMS AND PURPOSES

As set out in the ASEAN Declaration, the aims and purposes of ASEAN are:

To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations;

To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;

< Edited >


It actually lacks any explicit obligation to defend associate member states. If anything, it emphasizes non-interference in each other’s affairs.

Furthermore, it is an association that relies on consensus to accomplish anything.

From: http://asean.org/storage/2012/05/The-ASEAN-Charter-21-th-Reprint-Amended-17-05-2017-1.pdf

CHAPTER VII
DECISION-MAKING

ARTICLE 20
CONSULTATION AND CONSENSUS

1. As a basic principle, decision-making in ASEAN shall be based on consultation and consensus.

2. Where consensus cannot be achieved, the ASEAN Summit may decide how a specific decision can be made.

3. Nothing in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article shall affect the mode of decision-making as contained in the relevant ASEAN legal instruments.

4. In the case of a serious breach of the Charter or non-compliance, the matter shall be referred to the ASEAN Summit for decision.


This makes ASEAN relatively easy for China to neutralize and assure that it does not become a venue for diplomatic opposition to its ambitions. While much has been said about Duterte’s refusal to use ASEAN as a venue for protesting Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea, ASEAN had already been defanged years earlier when Cambodia (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3542.0) actively blocked any attempt association statements that would be unfavorable to China. First in 2012, then again in 2016. Adding further insult to injury, China openly thanked Cambodia for taking its side at ASEAN.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:40:03 AM
The scramble for a PH response

As with many democracies, the Philippines is rarely of one-mind on anything. It is, therefore, no surprise that the country is unable to achieve consensus on a solution to the China threat. Debate about how to respond to Chinese aggression has stirred up polarized social discourse rooted in political one upmanship compounded by racial and regional bias.

These us-versus-them discussions are often characterized by “reductio ad absurdum”. Both President Duterte and his opponents are both guilty of this. Oversimplifying the opposing side’s objections to their respective positions.

Duterte, for example, stated in his public pronouncements that his approach is an alternative to open war with China. The vocal opposition, in turn, accused the administration of treason for refusing to vilify China for its territorial encroachment at every opportunity. Both assertions are ultimately fallacious statements meant to compress geopolitical concepts into formats that fit within soundbytes, tweets, and memes. All at the expense of a more comprehensive fact-based understanding of the underlying strategies at play.

The relative weakness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a conventional conflict is no secret and is a broadly accepted fact. No multi-role fighters. A navy largely composed of WW-II vessels, none if which were armed with missiles. The list of force deficiencies go on. Challenging a regional power, militarily, would be national suicide.

On the other hand, giving up territory to China -- a charge often leveled against the administration by its detractors -- would actually be a crime. When questioned on this matter by  Al Jazeera (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=103.0), Duterte said that any move to surrender territory to China would be an impeachable offense. The President, who is actually a jurist by education, knows this limitation to his power all too well and is arguably not inclined to give his opponents the legal basis to undermine his policies in other spheres of concern.

Neither war nor surrender of territory, therefore, are actually valid options. Alternative options were necessary.

This admission of martial weakness is, arguably, the only point where the President and his critics agree. For everything else, especially the role that the international community -- particularly the Philippines’ traditional allies -- played in Philippine efforts to reclaim lost ground in the WPS, they were in fierce opposition.

The administration’s opponents -- championed by a loose collection of cause-oriented and political groups that included the likes of Justice Antonio Carpio -- prefer a “third option”. One that is merely a continuation of the foreign policies of the Aquino administration.

Aquino adopted a public hardline against China. A stance that saw Aquino likening China’s South China Sea policies with the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany in the 1940s at a public forum in Tokyo. This policy also saw the Philippines filing an arbitration case with UNCLOS to nullify China's nebulous 9-dashed line which forms official narrative for the basis of its claims to the South China Sea.

Although the Philippines brought nothing to the table militarily, they contend that the United States, and traditional partners, could actually fight China on the Philippines’ behalf if asked, or -- at the very least -- bluff China into capitulation with the mere threat of allied force. They often point to the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States as a shield behind which the Philippines could hide should the Chinese respond in force. Other, more optimistic voices, contend that the MDT actually gives the Philippines license to do whatever it saw fit to do within its territory and in contested waters.

MDT advocates also point to the fact that UNCLOS arbitration ruling, which declared that China’s claim to the South China Sea had no basis in fact, as yet another trump card that could be employed against China. They argue for its use as a legal instrument for forcing China to halt its territorial ambitions, and as a means to galvanize a coalition of nations that would that defend the region from the kelptomaniac dragon.

Proponents of the 3rd option find validation in the actions of both Indonesia and Vietnam who both maintain the same position as the Philippines did during the Aquino administration. They point to these two neighbors as having a found a middle-ground between open hostility and submission. The President’s critics question why the Philippine cannot follow suit.

It is, however, important to flesh out the specifics of this 3rd option.

Evaluating the 3rd option: UNCLOS (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11992#msg11992)
Evaluating the 3rd option: MDT (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11993#msg11993)

A variation of the “third option” would have the Philippines avoid war, but adopt a public anti-China position that emulates of the vocal Vietnamese and Indonesian stances towards China. Like the Aquino administration that used any bully pulpit available to call out China’s aggression, this variation of the same theme would attempt to build upon the reported momentum that had been built up by the UNCLOS arbitration (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=101.0) results that ruled against the validity of China’s 9-dashed line claim.

When considering this alternative, it is important to take stock of how effective this approach actually has been over the past decade. As gratifying as the sight of Vietnamese coast guard vessels ramming Chinese vessels, or Indonesian vessels conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea are to Philippine nationalists, their geopolitical effect -- in the face of Chinese obstinacy -- is actually minimal at best.

Vietnam's losses (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11996#msg11996)
Indonesian calculations (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11997#msg11997)
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:42:53 AM
Evaluating the "3rd option": UNCLOS

The cold hard fact about the UNCLOS ruling is that it did not actually grant the Philippines anything. All it did was nullify the 9-dashed line for the benefit of the world at large.

PCA Case No. 2013-19

In the Matter of the South China Sea Arbitration before the Aribitral Tribunal Constituted Under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea
Between the Republic of the Philippines and the People's Republic of China

https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Award.pdf

From page 84 of the document

Quote
5. Exceptions and Limitations to Jurisdiction

161. Finally, the Tribunal examined the subject matter limitations to its jurisdiction set out in Articles 297 and 298 of the Convention. Article 297 automatically limits the jurisdiction a tribunal may exercise over disputes concerning marine scientific research or the living resources of the exclusive economic zone. Article 298 provides for further exceptions from compulsory settlement that a State may activate by declaration for disputes concerning (a) sea boundary delimitations, (b) historic bays and titles, (c) law enforcement activities, and (d) military activities. By declaration on 25 August 2006, China activated all of these exceptions.

The key bit to understand the text above is Article 298, which states

http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf

Quote
Article 298

Optional exceptions to applicability of section 2

1. When signing, ratifying or acceding to this Convention or at any time thereafter, a State may, without prejudice to the obligations arising under section 1, declare in writing that it does not accept any one or more of the procedures provided for in section 2 with respect to one or more of the following categories of disputes:

(a) (i) disputes concerning the interpretation or application of articles 15, 74 and 83 relating to sea boundary delimitations, or those involving historic bays or titles,
provided that a State having made such a declaration shall, when such a dispute arises subsequent to the entry into force of this Convention and where no agreement
within a reasonable period of time is reached in negotiations between the parties, at the request of any party to the dispute, accept submission of the matter to conciliation under Annex V, section 2; and provided further that any dispute that necessarily involves the concurrent consideration of any unsettled dispute concerning sovereignty or other rights over continental or insular land territory shall be excluded from such submission;

(ii) after the conciliation commission has presented its report, which shall state the reasons on which it is based, the parties shall negotiate an agreement on the basis of that report; if these negotiations do not result in an agreement, the parties shall, by mutual consent, submit the question to one of the procedures provided for in section 2, unless the parties otherwise agree;

(iii) this subparagraph does not apply to any sea boundary dispute finally settled by an arrangement between the parties, or to any such dispute which is to be settled in accordance with a bilateral or multilateral agreement binding upon those parties;

(b) disputes concerning military activities, including military activities by government vessels and aircraft engaged in non-commercial service, and disputes concerning law
enforcement activities in regard to the exercise of sovereign rights or jurisdiction excluded from the jurisdiction of a court or tribunal under article 297, paragraph 2 or 3;

(c) disputes in respect of which the Security Council of the United Nations is exercising the functions assigned to it by the Charter of the United Nations, unless the Security Council decides to remove the matter from its agenda or calls upon the parties to settle it by the means provided for in this Convention.

2. A State Party which has made a declaration under paragraph 1 may at any time withdraw it, or agree to submit a dispute excluded by such declaration to any procedure specified in this Convention.

3. A State Party which has made a declaration under paragraph 1 shall not be entitled to submit any dispute falling within the excepted category of disputes to any procedure in this Convention as against another State Party, without the consent of that party.

4. If one of the States Parties has made a declaration under paragraph 1(a), any other State Party may submit any dispute falling within an excepted category against the declarant party to the procedure specified in such declaration.

5. A new declaration, or the withdrawal of a declaration, does not in any way affect proceedings pending before a court or tribunal in accordance with this article, unless the parties otherwise agree.

6. Declarations and notices of withdrawal of declarations under this article shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to the States Parties.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:45:25 AM
Evaluating the "3rd option": MDT

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Flag-Pins-USA-Philippines.jpg)

A strategy that relies on the MDT is a line of thinking with direct lineage to the ill-fated pre-World War II “War Plan Orange (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3495.0)” that was supposed to have sent the US Pacific fleet across the Pacific to repulse an Imperial Japanese attack. As USAFEE forces retreated to Bataan as part of the plan discovered -- the hard way in April 9, 1942 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3279.0) -- the mere threat of retaliation did not prevent invasion, and the promise of reinforcement could be hampered by other more-pressing concerns. Unfortunately for the defenders of Bataan, the attack on Pearl Harbor had put the United States on the defensive and the security of the continental US had become paramount. They had become expendable.

In addition to keeping the Bataan experience in mind, when weighing the value of the MDT as shield, one must also be mindful of the wording of the treaty and the mechanics for enforcement.

Article 4 and 5 of the US-PH treaty states

ARTICLE IV

Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

ARTICLE V

For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.

Arguably, faith in the MDT’s use as a shield against China emanates from these two provisions in the treaty. Particularly in the segments that indicate that an attack on the “armed forces, vessels or aircraft” of either party will trigger the MDT.

But how does this treaty ACTUALLY compare with other mutual defense agreements that the US has with its other allies and how is it enforced?

Treaty that created NATO (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11994#msg11994)
Treaty between US and Japan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11995#msg11995)

While the JP-US and PH-US mutual defense treaties both lack the automated response provision of the NATO treaty, the US has categorically declared that they recognize Japan’s claims to the Senkakus. The same cannot be said for the KIG.

The discretionary nature of MDT activation, and the lack of overt commitment to defense of the KIG -- both of which represented the status quo long before the current administration came to office -- should give anyone pause when opting to rely on the MDT as a shield against Chinese aggression.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:46:42 AM
Treaty that created NATO

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/1.jpg)

In the wake of 9-11 attack in New York City, the United States invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, thus paving the way for NATO involvement in Afghanistan. It was the first ever actual use of the treaty and demonstrated its mechanics. This how the NATO treaty laid out its obligation.

Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

As shown above, Article 5 of the NATO treaty has noteworthy differences with Article V of the US-PH MDT -- notably the use of the term “forthwith” in the stipulation for response to an attack. Unlike the treat with NATO, the MDT with the Philippines, instead, simply described the prescribed response as:

“declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes”.

This difference in wording is arguably the result of the nature of the Soviet threat when the NATO treaty was drafted. Nevertheless, it means that as things stand, the US-PH MDT does not result in an automatic US response to a Chinese attack, as it requires observance of “constitutional processes”

In United States jurisprudence, this would require a declaration of war. An inherently lengthy process that can be expedited depending on the perceived importance of the declaration.

There is, however, an avenue for immediate military action in support of the MDT -- short of a declaration of war -- via executive action as permitted by the US War Powers Resolution (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=355.0) of 1973. Under this act, The President of the United States (POTUS) can authorize the use of military forces for a duration of 60 days, with an option to extend by another 30 days, after which congressional authorization would be required for continued operation.

The MDT was written in 1951, at the height of the Cold War and when the Philippines was still host to numerous US military bases. The US needed unfettered access to these facilities, especially in the event of hostilities with the Soviet Union, so a treaty that tied the Philippines and the US to hip was a functional necessity. While post-bases relations with the US has improved in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, culminating in the drafting of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=227.0) which pseudo-institutionalized US presence in the Philippines as part of the Global War on Terror, the resources the US appears willing to commit to the Philippines is defined by the confines of counter-terrorism needs. For matters outside this scope the US remains unclear.

In summary, triggering of the MDT is not automatic, and requires a political climate in Washington that is receptive to our point of view. This begs the question:

Would the US be willing to go to war over territory that it doesn’t officially consider to be ours?

Would any attempt, on our part, to enforce our claims that then results in China using deadly force on our forces constitute an act of defense . . . or could it be labelled as an offensive action and therefore declared as being out-of-scope for a “defense treaty”?

These are CRITICAL questions to ask because contrary to common perception, not all defense relationships are created equal.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 12:53:05 AM
Treaty between the US and Japan

Japan and the US have codified their security relationship with their own security treaty. The treaty currently in-effect was ratified in 1960, and replaced the original treaty drafted in 1951. The wording of Article 5 of the US-PH MDT is actually closer in substance to the corresponding article in the Japan-US treaty. Even more so than the NATO treaty.

However, while the form of the treaty has similarities, there is a fundamental difference in official pronouncements about how the US views the Kalayaan Island Group, and how it view’s Japan’s Senkaku islands, which are contest by both China and South Korea.

Compare the stark difference in the US' statements about Chinese aggression with Japan and with their verbage with the Philippines

On Japan on the Senkakus

Quote
Obama: Senkakus Covered Under US-Japan Security Treaty
U.S. President Barack Obama, for the first time, took a side on the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, backing Japan.
By Ankit Panda
April 24, 2014
     
http://thediplomat.com/2014/04/obama-senkakus-covered-under-us-japan-security-treaty/
 
U.S. President Barack Obama opened his four-country Asia tour with a first stop in Tokyo.

. . .

In an interview ahead of his trip with Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun, Obama said that the United States regards the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as falling under the purview of the U.S.-Japan security treaty and that the United States would oppose any attempt to undermine Japan’s control of the islands. “The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands,” Obama stated in the Yomiuri Shimbun.


Mattis: US will defend Japanese islands claimed by China
Brad Lendon-Profile-Image
By Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 2:58 AM ET, Sat February 4, 2017

https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/03/asia/us-defense-secretary-mattis-japan-visit/index.html

(CNN)US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Saturday reaffirmed Washington's commitment to defending Japan, including a group of disputed islands which have been claimed by China.

"I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands -- the US will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands and as such Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty applies," Mattis said in a press conference with Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.

< Edited >

With the Philippines on the otherhand. . .

Quote
Aquino, Obama agree on Spratlys
By: TJ Burgonio / @TJBurgonioINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 01:22 AM November 19, 2011

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/18819/president-aquino-obama-agree-on-spratlys#ixzz4OYAUUOmY

< Edited >

The two leaders squeezed in a 30-minute meeting before noon Friday at the Grand Hyatt Bali hotel on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) annual summit, tackling maritime security, nuclear nonproliferation, disaster and humanitarian relief.

The Philippines is pushing to turn the disputed sea into a zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation, which entails segregating disputed zones to allow free use and joint development of undisputed areas. This was  “noted” by other Asean countries.

Despite the cool response, Philippine officials saw a glimmer of hope, after some of its neighbors manifested the need to move forward with a Declaration of the Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea and draw up a “binding set of rules” on the West Philippine Sea.

< Edited >

Paez said that while Obama made no commitment on the Manila proposal, Clinton clearly spelled out the US position  during her Manila visit early this week.

No categorical commitment from US to defend PH in sea row
By: Frances G. Mangosing - @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net / 04:09 PM June 02, 2018

SINGAPORE—US Defense Secretary James Mattis gave no categorical commitment on whether the Philippine-occupied features in the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is covered by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

While the JP-US and PH-US mutual defense treaties both lack the automated response provision of the NATO treaty, the US has categorically declared that they recognize Japan’s claims to the Senkakus. The same cannot be said for the KIG.

The discretionary nature of MDT activation, and the lack of overt commitment to defense of the KIG -- both of which represented the status quo long before the current administration came to office -- should give anyone pause when opting to rely on the MDT as a shield against Chinese aggression.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 01:03:11 AM
Administrator's note: This entry has been quoted in the following discussion in the Vietnam section: http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=4134.0


====


Vietnam’s losses

Like China, the Communist Party of Vietnam -- particularly its Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- maintains a set of pre-programmed responses to perceived affronts to their interests. A protest for every action. While China claims “indisputable sovereignty (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3519.0)” over the South China Sea, Vietnam’s response is a statement that describes their claims to be “incontestable (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3520.0)”. It is, therefore, no surprise that they’ve taken a vocal stance towards China’s agenda.

But despite the anti-China rhetoric, China actually continues to get its way even in areas actively claimed by Vietnam. Consider the following:

Sansha City, the supposed Chinese capital of the South China Sea, is actually built on a former Vietnamese island in the Paracels

The first large artificial island was built on Fiery Cross Reef (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2995.0), which is the site of a naval battle between China and Vietnam, where 3 Vietnamese transport ships were sunk, and 72 sailors were killed. Chinese construction there is essentially a national affront to the memory of lost Vietnamese lives.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2018-01-09t090226z_2_lynxmpee080bv_rtroptp_3_southchinasea-china.jpg)

In March 2018, PetroVietnam withdrew an oil drilling contract from Repsol of Spain (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2097.0) in response to Chinese threats. This resulted in a $200M loss for the Spanish company.

South China Sea: Vietnam halts drilling after 'China threats'
By Bill Hayton
BBC News
24 July 2017

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40701121

Vietnam has reportedly terminated a gas-drilling expedition in a disputed area of the South China Sea, following strong threats from China.
A source in the south-east Asian oil industry has told the BBC that the company behind the drilling, Repsol of Spain, was ordered to leave the area.
It comes only days after it had confirmed the existence of a major gas field.

Those reports have been corroborated by a Vietnamese diplomatic source.

According to the industry source, Repsol executives were told last week by the government in Hanoi that China had threatened to attack Vietnamese bases in the Spratly Islands if the drilling did not stop.

< Edited >

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/1-2.jpg)

Repsol asks Vietnam for compensation after drilling project halted
Reuters Staff
MAY 4, 2018

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-repsol-results-vietnam/repsol-asks-vietnam-for-compensation-after-drilling-project-halted-idUSKBN1I517E

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish oil major Repsol is in talks with Vietnam’s state oil company and national authorities over compensation for the suspension of an oil drilling project in the South China Sea, its chief financial officer said on Friday.

Vietnam halted the project in the “Red Emperor” block off its southeastern coast, which is licensed to Repsol, after coming under pressure from China, sources said in March.

< Edited >

In light of the cancellation of the Spanish contract, Russia’s Rosneft (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3508.0) has expressed concern about the fate of its own drilling contract off the coast of Vietnam.

Rosneft says South China Sea drilling is within Vietnam waters
Reuters Staff

https://www.reuters.com/article/rosneft-vietnam-southchinasea/rosneft-says-south-china-sea-drilling-is-within-vietnam-waters-idUSL3N1SO39Z

HANOI, May 17 (Reuters) - Drilling in the South China Sea by Rosneft is within Vietnamese territorial waters, the Russian state oil firm said in a statement on Thursday, two days after its Vietnamese subsidiary began drilling in Vietnamese waters claimed by China.

Rosneft’s local unit, Rosneft Vietnam BV, is concerned that its recent drilling in an area of the South China Sea that falls within China’s “nine-dash line” could upset Beijing, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Offshore license areas of Rosneft on the South China Sea are situated within the territorial waters of Vietnam,” Rosneft said in its statement.

< Edited >

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/rosneft.jpg)

======


EXCLUSIVE-Vietnam unit of Russia's Rosneft fears Beijing backlash over South China Sea drilling
By James Pearson
Reuters

https://www.compuserve.com/politics/story/0002/20180517/M1L3N1SN56V_1735131997

* Rosneft announces drilling in Vietnam's Block 06.1 on Tuesday

* Block is in area outlined by China's nine-dash line-consultant

* That line lays claim to much of the South China Sea

* Vietnam previously halted project by Repsol in a nearby block

* Rosneft Vietnam did not want publicity for drilling-sources

HANOI, May 17 (Reuters) - Rosneft Vietnam BV, a unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, is concerned that its recent drilling in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by China could upset Beijing, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

Rosneft said on Tuesday its Vietnamese unit had started drilling at the LD-3P well, part of the Lan Do "Red Orchid" offshore gas field in Block 06.1, 370 kms (230 miles) southeast of Vietnam.

The block is "within the area outlined by China's nine-dash line," according to energy consultancy and research firm Wood Mackenzie.

< Edited >

In March, Vietnam halted an oil drilling project in the nearby "Red Emperor" block following pressure from China, sources told Reuters.

< Edited >

Fearing repercussions and pressure from China, Rosneft Vietnam had wanted to begin drilling with as little attention as possible, despite the statement by its parent company on Tuesday, the sources said.

< Edited >

The drilling is significant for Vietnam, which has been struggling to maintain its crude oil and gas output amid already declining production from its key fields and the continuing pressure from China in the disputed waters.

In April, Vietnam's state oil firm PetroVietnam said that maritime tensions with China will hurt its offshore exploration and production activities this year.

< Edited >

Despite being 8th largest importer of weaponry in the world (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3635.0), whose inventory includes everything from Scud medium-range ballistic missiles (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3638.0) . . .

From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1iqatRTVXs

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/18.jpg)

. . . modern submarines . . .

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/kilo21443498094.jpg)

Lễ hạ thuỷ tàu kilo. Ảnh: TTXVN.

. . . frigates . . .

Gepard class frigate (Gepard 3.9 type)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/011.jpg)
From NavyRecognition (http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/2017/lima-2017-show-daily-news/5026-lima-2017-southeast-asia-showed-interest-in-russian-naval-hardware.html)

The Gepard-3.9 frigates are designated to search, trace and fight surface, underwater and air targets of the adversary, carry out escort operations, patrol and protect maritime state border and exclusive economic zone.

. . .  multi-role fighters (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1260.0), . . .

Phu Dong
Published on Apr 17, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXbt8y28EhU

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/7-2.jpg)

. . . and surface-to-surface missiles, Vietnam is at the very least in a stalemate with China it can’t hope to outlast.



The Philippine strategy under Duterte, in contrast, has its sights on a more favorable outcome.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 01:03:33 AM
Indonesian calculations

Another country with which Philippine policies have been compared -- unfavorably -- is Indonesia. In contrast to Duterte’s strategy of conciliatory engagement, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has opted for open resistance, punctuated by a cabinet meeting off the Natuna islands (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3487.0). It was a clear, public, rebuff of Chinese claims to the Indonesian portion of the South China Sea.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stands on the deck of the Indonesian Navy ship KRI Imam Bonjol after chairing a limited cabinet meeting in the waters of Natuna Islands, Riau Islands province, Indonesia June 23, 2016 in this photo provided by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Setpres - Krishadiyanto/ via REUTERS

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/1.jpg)

While the geopolitical position that Indonesia carved for itself appears appealing at first glance, the nature of that position must be thoroughly understood before it is replicated. Despite the obvious nationalistic appeal of a President sailing into waters that China claims as it own, it is critical to understand the Indonesian calculation that made this display worth-the-risk. Without that understanding, mounting a Philippine equivalent to this exercise would be putting the cart before the horse.

Arguably, central to that calculation is the fact that Indonesia is the largest economy in South East Asia. Even China felt the sting of that power in 2014 when Indonesia adopted a nationalist export policy that forbade the export of raw mineral ore. This act, -- designed to stimulate development of in-country ore processing capability -- had a detrimental effect on a Chinese economy that was heavily dependent on Indonesian Nickel imports (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3517.0). Nickel is used to make stainless steel, and China sourced half of its Nickel requirements from Indonesia.

Coupled to this economic engine is a significant conventional-warfare-capable military that was well suited for projecting power over its maritime approaches. The Indonesian submarine force (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=535.0), for example, is the oldest organization of its type in South East Asia, and is an advantage that the Indonesian Navy is keen to maintain (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1274.0).

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/main_p1651552.jpg)
The Indonesian Navy's first Type 209/1400 submarine, pictured at its launching ceremony on 24 March in Okpo. Source: DSME

A vibrant domestic military shipbuilding industry not only supplies Jakarta’s navy with ships ranging from missile armed frigates to amphibious assault ships, but also caters to the demands of the export market, to include the Philippine Navy (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=38.0).

C/o Agus Utomo at the forum's FB extension: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1300572960028548/

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/18278861_447886112224270_5098345765529981628_o.jpg)

The Indonesian Air Force, for its part, retains a potent mix if Western (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1163.0) and Russian (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1162.0) fighter aircraft that form the cutting edge of a force that is thoroughly modern, sophisticated, and is also embargo proof. If one block of suppliers withholds logistical support, the other block benefits from the shift in focus.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/p1717529.jpg)
A pilot from the USAF&#8217;s 514th Flight Test Squadron makes a high-speed pass in an Indonesian F-16C Fighting Falcon during a functional check flight in November, at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The jet is the last of 24 F-16s to be delivered to the Indonesian Air Force as part of an acquisition agreement approved by the US government. (US Air Force)

The third variable in this equation, one that puts the first two in the proper perspective is the nature of China's claims against Indonesia. China has already publicly announced that it recognizes Indonesian sovereignty (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3522.0) over the Natuna islands — which is on the outer edge of China’s tongue-shaped 9-dashed line claim. The sole point of contention is Beijing’s insistence in the existence of overlapping claims betweens the ill-defined 9-dashed line and Indonesia’s EEZ. A claim that Jakarta has definitively rejected.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/1-4.jpg)

The two earlier advantages, combined with the fact that China -- as of writing -- is not on the verge of occupying any particular Indonesian island or atoll, gives Indonesia the geopolitical flexibility that both the Philippines and Vietnam lack.

The gravity of Sino-Indo tensions is arguably nowhere near as tense as those between China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has defined their China-problem as merely a law enforcement matter. Given the Natuna islands’ location relative to the Philippine and Vietnamese claims, it is easy to understand why Indonesia would not expect to be as high on China’s priority list as either Manila or Hanoi.

However, despite its relatively strong defensive position towards China, Indonesia still recognizes the value of engagement with China. In the wake of the Nickel ban meant to stimulate domestic industries, Chinese companies (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3517.msg11320#msg11320) actually answered the call to build the facilities to achieve the Indonesian government’s ends. Indonesia is also poised to enter into “Silk Road” initiative projects with China worth $23.3B (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3521.0).

Unlike Philippine nationalists, Indonesia understands that China is not merely a phenomenon that will disappear when ignored. It is here to stay. As Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Panjaitan explained:

< Edited >

"We must be smart (as) all (countries are eying opportunities). It is a matter of being smart to eye opportunities to derive more benefits," he pointed out.

< Edited >
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 01:12:11 AM
Defining the parameters of the problem

The Philippine Constitution describes what is at stake in the pseudo-war with China.

From: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/constitutions/1987-constitution/

ARTICLE I

National Territory

The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.

As with any properly drafted constitution, Article I does not actually layout the specifics of the boundaries of Philippine territory. Responsibility for those specifics has been given to the Legislative branch.

From: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/constitutions/1987-constitution/

ARTICLE VI

The Legislative Department

SECTION 1. The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.

Congress performed its duty to define the country’s boundaries when it passed Republic Act 9522, which defined the archipelagic baseline of the territorial sea of the Philippines.

Republic Act No. 9522             March 10, 2009

AN ACT TO AMEND CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3046, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 5446, TO DEFINE THE ARCHIPELAGIC BASELINE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled::

Section 1. Section 1 of Republic Act No. 3046, entitled "An Act to Define the Baselines of the Territorial Sea of the Philippines", as amended by Section 1 of Republic Act No. 5446, is hereby amended to read as follows:

Section 1. The baselines of the Philippines archipelago are hereby defined and described specifically as follows:

Basepoint Number

This law, in turn, was written in accordance with the requirements set forth by the Philippines alignment with the United Nations Convention on the Laws Of the Sea (UNCLOS)

From: http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part2.htm

SECTION 2. LIMITS OF THE TERRITORIAL SEA


Article

Breadth of the territorial sea

Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.

The references above provide the official, legal, basis for the Philippines’ territorial claims. They are not only noteworthy for what is written in the letter of the law . . . but also for what is not codified in the document. While the law is very clear about what belongs to the Philippines, and therefore what the Philippines cannot part with, it is actually silent about how protection of such territory is implemented.

The power to enforce laws and protect Philippine sovereignty is not given to Congress and its committees that produce a never-ending series of hearings-in-aid-of-legislation. That power also does not reside in the hand of jurists who, as private citizens enjoying their rights to free speech, choose to air their personal opinions about how laws ought to be implemented. This power is the sole responsibility -- and burden -- of the Executive department.

From: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/constitutions/1987-constitution/

ARTICLE VII

Executive Department

SECTION 1. The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.

At the end of the day . . . how the Philippines implements foreign policy is the purview of the Executive.

Upon assuming office, the Duterte administration assumed responsibility for dealing with an agitated foreign dragon. The international rebuff (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3453.0) of China’s policies by the UNCLOS tribunal (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=101.0) was a blow to Chinese prestige. A blow at a time when the Chinese President, Xi Jin Ping was grapling with his own domestic political agenda that culminated in numerous high-profile prosecutions and/or imprisonment of retired generals (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3534.0), as well as a powerplay (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3088.0) that abolished term limits for his office.

While political reversals could spell the end of an administration in a Philippine setting, the consequences could be more significant for authoritarian regimes like China (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3088.msg11356#msg11356). In a system of government where legitimacy does not stem from consent of the governed -- as it is in a democratic system -- but rather from the perceived raw power of a central authority, perceptions of weakness are intolerable.

Therefore, a Philippines that defiantly stands up for itself, but lacks . . .

. . . the military strength of Vietnam . . .

. . . the economic resilience and geographical distance of Indonesia . . .

. . . and is dependent on allies that are either threatened by China or are embroiled in other domestic and geopolitical concerns . . .

. . . could very well become low-hanging fruit for a display of Chinese political power. Not so much for international consumption, but for the benefit of the enemy that the Chinese leadership fears most: internal Chinese politics.

Panatag Shoal, also referred to as “Scarborough Shoal” or “Bajo Masinloc’, has already been under virtual Chinese control since 2012 -- thanks, in no small part to a miscalculation (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2026.0) during the previous administration. This involved a maritime law enforcement engagement by the BRP Gregorio del Pilar at the shoal. The use of the Philippine Navy flagship in the incident introduced a military vessel into what had been hitherto a purely coast guard affair and threatened to draw-in a military response from China. This, and the subsequent withdrawal from Scarborough by all Philippine forces -- both Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard -- without a corresponding withdrawal by Chinese forces, created the situation that Secretary of National Defense Lorenzana described as “mismanagement (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2026.msg11382#msg11382)”.

The cold hard truth that the Duterte administration faced was that there is virtually nothing that actually prevents China from continuing its island building campaign on the shoal at our expense. In fact, such a move could remind Xi Jinping’s opponents of his ability, and willingness, to wield power.

While Duterte’s usual rhetoric equates a Chinese response to a Philippine protest with military action, this is arguably hyperbole to simplify the message for the average Filipino. In reality, China does not even need to engage in an actual shooting war to wield power over the Philippines. It could achieve the same effect by simply holding the Philippine economy hostage.

According to data compiled by the Philippine Statistics Authority (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2768.0), China, combined with Hong Kong, account for 24.5% of all Philippine exports, and 18.8% of Philippine imports. More than any other country, including either Japan and the US.

From: https://psa.gov.ph/content/highlights-philippine-export-and-import-statistics-june-2017

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/export.png)

China demonstrated their willingness to use exports as a means to express its displeasure at the Philippines during the PH-CN Banana War (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=305.0). The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association first sounded the alarm about China’s actions in 2012. Between 2014 and 2016, exports of the product to China dropped from $300M to under $100M.

At the start of the Duterte administration in May 2016, the Philippines launched a charm offensive aimed at reducing PH-CN tensions. What followed was a dramatic rise in banana imports. The war was over.

The relative brevity of that engagement meant that China wasn’t given reason to apply its influence over a broader swath of the Philippine economy. Nevertheless, the point had already been made. The potential for consequences was clearly there. The global nature of China’s economic reach meant that it could theoretically bleed the Philippines dry, by directing its export and import needs to other countries that were be all-too willing to increase their share of the Chinese market. Indonesia witnessed the latter when it withheld Nickel ore exports from China, and the dragon easily found replacements, discussed earlier in this article, and has since reversed its ban.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 01:14:47 AM
The way forward

The President has never been known as a gifted orator. Something that his supporters point to as proof of his authenticity, while critics his have, thus far, not been able to see past. Duterte’s penchant for impromptu discussions and Visayan-style hyperbole don’t lend themselves to consistent and accurate reporting in the media, and have thus created a perception of policy flip-flopping.

But the core elements of the Preisdent’s policies, towards China and others, have remained consistent. The President reinforced this recently — in his characteristically broken, Visayan-structured, speech — during the Philippine Navy’s 120th anniversary.

From: https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/20180522-Speech_of_President_Rodrigo_Roa_Duterte_during_the_120th_Philippine_Navy_Anniversary.pdf

Quote
"Ladies and gentlemen, I would have wanted to share with you my insights in the matter of the West Philippine Sea, its dynamics and, of course, the implication of geopolitics. But for lack of material time, I may do it some other venue which I think you‟d be more comfortable to wait and listen to the policy.

It has something to do with my desire to defend but at the same time not to make any move that would be destructive to the nation. I cannot afford at this time to go to war. I cannot go into a battle which I cannot win and it would only result in the destruction and
probably a lot of losses for our Armed Forces.

Ako gusto ko, I really want to do something to assert. But you know, when I assumed the presidency, there was already this ruckus in the West Philippine Sea. It used to be China Sea.

And because in my simple calculation, in every common sense that‟s available to me, I would have taken a stronger but probably a more violent way of doing it. And I said in my own estimation, it would be a great loss to the nation and probably end up losing a war. And all of these things I have wanted to made known to you and whether you accept it or not, that is the reality on the ground.

It‟s geopolitics. You well know what are at stake. I cannot rely just on one nation and country to defend us and maybe to help us in our hour of need"

War is clearly not an option, for reasons already detailed earlier and as outlined by the President in his speech above. Surrender would violate the constitution, and is therefore an equally invalid option. The ability to hide behind our allies is questionable as is the validity of the opposition’s 3rd option.

Duterte needed a 4th option.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 02:57:01 AM
A fourth option

Star Trek fans would recognize the Duterte administration’s chosen course of action as a “Kobayashi Maru (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3570.0)” solution. A re-writing of the rules of the game to win a “no-win” scenario.

A favorable solution to the China-problem requires levels of out-of-the-box-thinking at the executive level traditionally absent from Malancanang. It calls for a uniquely Filipino solution that matures relations with traditional allies -- that are more accustomed to either an overly agreeable Philippine stance or a mendicant mindset; engages non-traditional players to broaden the country’s geopolitical engagements, and redefines PH-CN relations to the Philippines’ advantage. 

The audacious goal of the 4th option is, simply put: to convince China to see things our way. To conduct itself in a manner that conforms to our own laws, thus blurring — if not eliminating — the distinction between how we would conduct our affairs had China simply vanished from the face of the Earth and Duterte’s desired end-state that grants us unimpeded use and access to resources that are ours to begin with. It is full exercise of our sovereignty . . . but without, initially, the pomp and circumstance that comes with it

If China were a bully, Option 1 would have started a fight with the bully that could only end with us in either a wheelchair or the grave. Option 2, surrender, would leave us with nothing. Option 3 would have us pick a fight with the bully while hiding behind a big, but distracted neighbor that retains the option to go to the movies whenever he wants . . . regardless of our fitness to resort to option 1 when we are left alone.

Option 4 would have the bully wonder why he had to act like a douche bag in the first place . . . and learn to play nice. It would not make the bully go away, but would essentially make him leave us alone. All the while . . . wondering who we would side with if he ever decided to picked a fight with our big neighbor.

While the need to continue, even accelerate, the AFP modernization program remains, Option 4 will not be achieved by a feat of arms, as the Philippines currently lacks the martial power to enforce its policies, and its allies remain uncommitted to support Philippines claims. It will not be a result of international pressure, as force and shame simply gives China a domestic-politics-based incentive to dig in its heels.

It will require the use of a mix of incentives, gamesmanship, and polite resolve, to maneuver the kleptomaniac dragon into recognizing our claims, and to conduct its activities -- whatever they may be -- on our terms. IF this plan works . . . it will be a triumph of unconventional diplomacy AND financial deterrence.

Chinese financial self-interest -- not the threat of war -- will force China to respect Philippine law and Philippine claims.

If this approach sounds far fetched and fantastic, contrast it with the alternative:

Quote
Cowering behind our allies in the hope that they would fight our battles for us while we have no practical means to join the fight alongside them, and hope that our economy doesn’t stall in the meantime as they finish OUR job for us.

Would the US and our other allies really want to fight for us while we had no skin in the game? It’s worth noting that merely agitating China with diplomatic protests isn’t actually synonymous to “skin in the game”. Poking the dragon without an overall plan for success is a plan to fail.

Option 4 shows our allies that we have matured as a nation, are able to think for ourselves, and is now a capable partner for any nation that chooses to call us friend, rather than a dependent state to be propped up.

How do we know its working?
 
The key to understanding The President’s intentions is remembering that he is a nationalist (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3580.0) first . . . all other labels second. Not communist (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1180.0) . . . not internationalist . . . it is Pinoy-first. Any actions in pursuit of that holy-grailish 4th option must, therefore, be viewed in this context.

Words are infamously cheap. Therefore the average Filipino understandably expects to see proof of Duterte’s policies.

Such proof can be obtained in two forms:

What has been prevented (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12001#msg12001)
What has already, or is currently, being done (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12002#msg12002)
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 03:01:54 AM
What has been prevented

On May 29, the Department of Foreign Affairs revealed that there were “red lines (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3477.0)” that it said would indicate that the 4th option was not working. Namely: A change in the status quo in Scarborough / Panatag / Majo Masinloc shoal, any moves taken against the garrison on Ayungin Shoal, onboard the BRP Sierra Madre.

Despite having virtual control over the shoal since 2011, the island building campaign on Philippine shoals undertaken in Subi and Mischief Reefs in 2015, have not been replicated on Panatag . . . at least for now. For as long as that status quo remains, then that is actually a win for the 4th Option.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/14947426_10211436540737015_1977048824382699360_n.jpg)

Recently, the plight of Filipino fishermen from Masinloc town, that depend on Panatag for their livelihood were brought to the spotlight because of harassment by Chinese Coast Guardsmen who would selectively confiscate their catch.

Videos of the deed

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/1-5.jpg)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2-4.jpg)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/3-3.jpg)

While this disruption of livelihood is unacceptable, it is worth noting that up until the the closing months of the Aquino administration, Filipino fishermen were not even able to approach Panatag without being told to leave. As intolerable as the sight of Filipino fishermen being robbed of their catch is . . . in the grand scheme of things, this remains an improvement of over what activities that transpired prior to 2016 In the video below, fishermen who sought shelter in Panatag from rough seas were actually forced to leave with water cannons.

24 Oras: Panatag Shoal, tatawagin na ring Bajo de Masinloc
GMA News
82K views

UB: Ilang mangingisdang Pinoy, itinaboy ng Chinese Coast Guard sa Panatag Shoal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxzo3JS7snw

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/1-24.jpg)

A virtual quarantine of the shoal had been in effect since 2012, as an Al Jazeera news crew experienced for itself.

Standoff at Scarborough Shoal | 101 East
485,356 views
 
Al Jazeera English
Published on Aug 3, 2012

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R28-b-nNtR0

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2-12.jpg)

Relaxation of this quarantine policy started shortly after the change of administration in 2016. By any rational measure, this is a CLEAR win for the 4th option.

Things changed very quickly with the change of the administration

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fAMh9WXxmM

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/3-8.jpg)

Filipino fishermen still lack full, unfettered access to the fishing grounds to which they are entitled by Philippine and international law. But enduring extortion remains a step-up from quarantine.

In February 2018, the Philippines and China established a communication channel (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3491.0) for grievances. Upon receipt of the report about the conduct of Chinese Coast Guardsmen towards Filipino fishermen, the Department of Foreign Affairs reportedly escalated (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=398.msg11338#msg11338) the grievance to their Chinese counterparts using this mechanism. Only time will tell how this progresses.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 03:05:05 AM
What has already, or is currently, being done

On the matter of what is being done. In keeping with the objective of de-escalating tensions, the Duterte administration has deliberately been low-key in its efforts to improve its defenses on Pag-asa. As a result, releases of information are few and far in-between and only available after completion of the activity.

Whereas the previous administration would publish plans years in advance and often under-deliver . . . the current administration actually takes the opposite track, going so far as to either claim that defensive measure aren't worth doing, or down play their value, but quietly implement these defensive measures. It is an approach that feeds the "flip-flop narrative", and continues to provide the vocal opposition with sound bytes. But remains in-keeping with the overall strategy.

On April 2017 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=103.msg4568#msg4568), the administration publicly issued a directive to bolster its defenses in the Kalayaan Island Group. Within that month, the Secretary of National Defense, Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, visited Pag-asa Island in the KIG via a C-130 transport aircraft, and in the shadow of the Philippine Navy flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=106.msg4388#msg4388), to inspect existing facilities. It is worth noting that cabinet-level representatives of the previous administration never mounted such a display.

FF15 deployed to Pagasa Island for SND Lorenzana's visit

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ff15.png)

In August 2017, the Philippine Navy was permitted to reveal noticeable improvements in the material condition of the Ayungin Shoal outpost.

FINALLY . . . the PN's own FB page shows improvements to BRP Sierra Madre

https://www.facebook.com/navalforceswest/posts/1448060261915503

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/21014077_1448060141915515_1469869556308146095_o.jpg)

While photos of improvements within the ship were never revealed, photos showed to select community members -- in confidence -- revealed noteworthy improvements to the habitability of the grounded ship.

Such secrecy is in keeping with the administration’s fence-mending policies. However, satellite photos of ongoing repairs to Rancudo airfield on Pag-asa Island provided conclusive proof that despite the ongoing “charm offensive” with China, the administration was not actually meekly surrendering territory in pursuit of the dreaded “Option 2” . . . and that Option 4 was well underway.

https://amti.csis.org/philippines-launches-spratly-repairs/

Quote
Philippines Launches Spratly Runway Repairs
Published: May 25, 2018

The Philippines has begun long-delayed repairs to its crumbling runway at Thitu, or Pag-asa, Island, the largest of its nine outposts in the Spratly Islands and home to upwards of 100 civilians and a small military garrison. Thitu sits just over 12 nautical miles from China’s air and naval base at Subi Reef, and was the site of a tense standoff with a Chinese flotilla last August. Philippine defense officials in April 2017 announced that they would be upgrading facilities at the country’s occupied islands and reefs, but little work was apparent until now. In addition to the runway repairs, a comparison of recent imagery with photos from February 2017 shows minor upgrades to facilities on Thitu and three other outposts in the last year.

(https://i1.wp.com/amti.csis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Thitu_5_17_18_R1C1-wm_final.jpg?w=576&h=394&ssl=1)

Quote
Satellite imagery from May 17 shows two barges anchored just off the western edge of the Thitu Island runway, which collapsed into the sea years ago. It appears that a grab dredger, consisting of a crane with a clamshell bucket, is installed on the smaller barge to the west, while the other carries a backhoe. Loose sediment from dredging can be seen in the water around the two barges and freshly-deposited sand is visible along the northern edge of the runway.

This method of dredging is similar to that used by Vietnam at several of its outposts in recent years. While still harmful to the marine environment, it affects surrounding reefs at a smaller scale and is far less environmentally destructive than the suction cutter dredging undertaken by China, which destroyed thousands of acres of reef from late 2013 to early 2017.

(https://i1.wp.com/amti.csis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/ThituSnapZoom2_5_17_18_R1C1-Upscaled-wm.jpg?w=1196&h=819&ssl=1)

Quote
According to 2014 reports, when repairs were previously mooted, the repair process would involve two steps. First, dredgers would clear a small harbor on Thitu near the runway. The coral reef surrounding Thitu makes it impossible for large ships to approach, as evidenced by the rusting hulk of the BRP Lanao del Norte, a Philippine Navy ship that ran aground in 2004 while trying to dock. Once dredgers have cleared a harbor and an approach, larger ships carrying the heavy machinery necessary to repair the runway would be able to dock and begin the second step, focused on the runway.

The airstrip at Thitu Island was originally constructed in the 1970s and was the first runway in the Spratly Islands. It is officially 1,300 meters long, but the real figure is closer to 1,200 due to the collapse of the western end. That, along with the poor condition of the runway surface, makes landings and takeoffs difficult for Philippine C-130s like the one that carried Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., then chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to the island in May 2015:

In addition to the start of work on the runway, other upgrades are visible around Thitu. At least seven new buildings have been constructed in the last year, with four near the residential area on the eastern side of the island, one near the administrative facilities at its center, another along the northern shore, and one at the western end next to the island’s basketball court, which has received a fresh coat of paint. Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in November that the country had started building a new beach ramp to more easily bring in supplies, but that site cannot be seen in the May 17 imagery due to cloud cover and no new ramp was visible as recently as February.

(https://i1.wp.com/amti.csis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/thitu_east_05172018_shadowed_wm.jpg?w=794&h=584&ssl=1)
(https://i1.wp.com/amti.csis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Thitu_Center_5_17_18_shadowed-wm.jpg?w=398&h=272&ssl=1)
(https://i1.wp.com/amti.csis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/thitu_north_snip_z20_shadowed-wm.jpg?w=398&h=308&ssl=1)
(https://i0.wp.com/amti.csis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Thitu_BB_5_17_18_R1C1-Upscaled_shadowed-wm.jpg?w=1196&h=819&ssl=1)

The new beaching ramp is a priority

Lorenzana sees repair of Pag-asa runway in Spratlys finished by end of 2019
By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter / @FMangosingINQ INQUIRER.net / 07:40 PM August 14, 2018

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/169046/lorenzana-sees-repair-of-pag-asa-runway-in-spratlys-finished-by-end-of-2019

The eroded airstrip on Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island (Thitu) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) will be completed before the end of next year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

Asked about the status of the rehabilitation of the island, the defense chief said the construction of the beaching ramp continues and may be finished by yearend. This will allow ships to transport construction materials for the runway later on.

“They are trying to build the beaching ramp. We need the beaching ramp because, without that, we cannot bring any equipment, we cannot bring in the bulldozers, plus the materials to rebuild the runway,” he told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of the formal acceptance ceremony of a surveillance system from the US.

< Edited >

=====

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/27amti1.jpg)

LONG-NEEDED UPGRADE A May 17 satellite photo (left) from the Washington-based think tank, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, shows two barges off the western tip of the airstrip on Pag-asa Island dredging the seabed to repair the dilapidated runway. The May 16 photo at right shows a closer view of one of the barges at work on the 1.3-kilometer crumbling coral airstrip that has become dangerous to aircraft.

Contrast this to Aquino’s position of distancing itself from Pagasa. Despite having funds to actually undertake repairs of Rancudo airfield, previous SND Voltaire Gazmin admitted to congress that he halted (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3546.msg11500) repair efforts for fear of Chinese retaliation.

Despite having one of the most active mayors in KIG history at the helm of the municipality, the previous administration opted to ignore Mayor Bitoonon’s pleas for aid for his island and for assistance against Chinese poachers who who were harvesting giant clams at the time. The red tape and excuses are documented here. (http://adroth.ph/timeline-kalayaan-sheltered-port-project/)

Switching the contrast back to today, even one of the current administration’s vocal international critics, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), begrudgingly admited that Option 4 had caused China to pause (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2992.0) to re-assess the situation. AMTI also provided satellite imagery of physical improvements to Rancudo airfield.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 03:14:29 AM
Implementing the 4th option

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/relations.png)

Step One: Rebooting PH-CN relations

Arguably, step one for the process was a reboot of PH-CN communications since diplomatic relations were considerably strained during the previous administration. This is an all-important precondition because if we're not talking . . . there can be no negotiation . . . and in this diplomatic climate, the Chinese would be hard-pressed to signify acquiescence to our demands without fear of losing face (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3434.0).

Aquino opted for an overtly anti-Chinese stance (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3433.0). For the 4th option to work . . . a dialogue had to be restarted.

Reaction to the lengths to which the Duterte undertook this necessary first step varied. For observers who are unfamiliar with Duterte’s methods, are skeptical of his 20+ years of fiscal, executive, and legislative experience, are incapable of thinking beyond regionalistic concerns, or simply not mindful of the need for a 4th option, his words were at the very least nauseating, and at worst horrifying.

Jokes that invited China to turn the Philippines into a Chinese province (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3589.0) were met with disgust and outrage. Duterte's vehement anti-US rhetoric (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=210.0), was outright shocking and often attributed to a socialist, if not pro-communist, predisposition that would end with capitulation (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=336.0) to the whims of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

A notable number of long-time fixtures in PH defense social media -- including a number of self-declared defense analysts -- heralded the end the country’s alliances with its traditional partners — US, Japan, ASEAN, etc — in the wake of the litany of tirades launched in the opening days of the Presidency. Whether or not the administration went overboard with this phase of effort -- derided as “appeasement” by impatient critics -- is for future historians to assess. But today, the policy remains polarizing (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2831.0).

It is, however, important to acknowledge that today, contrary to these ominous narratives, the health of relations with the country's allies actually remains unaffected. Well into the administration’s second year US-PH relations (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=408.0) has itself gone thought its own reboot from a low point at the start of the current administration. Japan continues to provide aid (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=474.msg1181#msg1181) despite a supposed “slight” due to a rejection of an offer for missiles (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=474.msg3029#msg3029). Diplomats and defense officials of our allies are simply taking the unfamiliar verbiage in stride.

On the domestic front, the health of US-PH relations were actually affirmed during the Battle of Marawi (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1972.0) where the US contributed to defeat of ISIS sympathizers in a multi-month battle. To the apparent surprise of the CPP leadership, the President had leveraged the party's lack of effective control (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1180.0) over its military arm -- the New People's Army -- as means to paint the organization as a fractured organization that did not deserve status as a "belligerent state (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3562.0)", and affirmed the government's role as the sole enforcer (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=777.0) of law and order.

This disparity between dismissive or pessimistic headlines and the ACTUAL state of relationships is no surprise to observers who are already familiar with the President’s penchant for hyperbole (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3454.0) — which is actually common for his generation Visayans, especially those who are politically inclined. This is simply “classic Duterte”. A brawler for whom all legal options were the table — from threats to sugary flattery — all of which could be brought bear to match the intended audience.

A key takeaway from this disparity between what pundits say . . . and what actually takes place . . . is that despite insistence to the contrary, there is a method to the President’s seeming madness. There is “a plan”.

To understand Malacanang's actions, an observer must acknowledge -- even begrudgingly -- that the administration is "nationalist" first, all other labels second. All actions, no matter how outwardly chaotic are ultimately directed towards a single nationalistic -- albeit provincially-biased -- agenda (see Metro Manila (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2818.0) will be dead in 25 years). Using this nationalist slant as a guide to understanding Duterte's dealing with China, one can take the adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and transform it -- in a PH-China context -- into “To make a friend of my enemy, make him believe we have a common enemy”.

Hence the seemingly baffling anti-US, anti-West, rhetoric. This is all part and parcel of geopolitical theater designed to play on China's perceived historical "injustices" at the hands of the west, Japan, and other enemies. All this is done to implement the 4th option, and NOT actually an attempt to destroy existing favorable relationships.

This approach banks on the strength of US-PH relations. The US understands that overall Filipino-on-the-street sentiment remains predominantly pro-US. The US also knows that its diplomatic and military (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=277.0) relationships run deep throughout the bureaucracy. Its mind-share in the Philippines is as secure as it has always been, and it will take more than one administration to change that.

The administration is equally aware of these relationships, and is taking calibrated liberties with its ties with the US to dial-down tensions with China -- by making it appear that it was making a pivot towards China at the US' expense. Duterte knows fully-well that had it actually been possible to undo PH-US ties in a single administration . . . then the "special relationship" with the US would be exposed as a lie . . . and the President's public distrust of the US would have been proven true. Either way, it was a risk worth taking. The President knew that US-PH relations would survive such gamesmanship . . . and has leveraged it to the hilt.

It is worth noting that the administration is careful about making outwardly hostile verbiage with the Philippines' other allies. Note the generally conciliatory tone that Duterte takes towards Japan, South Korea, and other South East Asian neighbors.

Duterte says Japan a true friend
By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 29, 2016 - 12:00am

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/10/29/1638445/duterte-says-japan-true-friend

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Japan is and will always be a true friend of the Philippines, said President Duterte as he cited gains from his three-day state visit to Tokyo.

< Edited >

“I discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in full detail the state of Philippines-Japan ties and we identified points of collaboration that would lead to a common path towards the achievement of shared objectives,” the President said.

The President stressed that by all counts and by any measure, the Philippines’ relation with Japan is excellent.

< Edited >

“Economic cooperation remains a linchpin between our dynamic relations. As I sought greater partnership to create an enabling environment for both our businesses to thrive, I encouraged private businesses in Japan to invest in the Philippines,” the President added.

The President likewise cited Japan’s being the No. 1 Official Development Assistance partner of the Philippines.
                         

Since China is the prickly neighbor that had to be "won-over", to redirect them from their island-building mindset, naturally the tone of the conversation had to be overly positive. Therefore, giving in to the demands of the opposition to take a hard-line stance against China -- backtracking towards an Aquino-style "3rd option" -- would be counter-productive. It would undo progress already made in this all important first step. At the end of the day, only the people that didn't, couldn't -- or flat out refused to -- understand the delicate balancing act would insist on a public display of protest and depart from the recently-created bilateral communication mechanism (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3491.0).

As for low-key, bilateral communication with the Philippines' traditional allies, expanded participation in the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3457.0) exercise -- where China was actually dis-invited -- should already provide indication that these allies are appraised of the situation. Where once there was US resistance (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=141.0) to being given access to advanced weaponry, there is now greater access as shown by the photo below.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/19657001_10209408557712932_2917760958528718716_n.jpg)

To the consternation of the same pundits, the outrage at the President's actions actually lends credibility to the President's feint-to-China. The vehemence of opposition to the pro-China rhetoric, which includes an ongoing effort to impeach (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3614.0) Duterte for his policies, actually reinforces the plausibility of these efforts and presents China with a basic conundrum: "Does it take Duterte's overtures at face value, or could it actually get a better deal with the next President?" Thanks the opposition . . . the latter appears unlikely. Consequently, the dragon now is under pressure to close deals as fast as possible . . . and hopefully without the same kind of due diligence it normally would, which could very well be to our advantage.

Ergo, the more outlandish the jokes and statements and the more vehement the reaction from the opposition, the louder the ticks on the constantly winding-down Duterte clock will be for China. If all these are played right, the more agreeable China would be for a mutually favorable resolution.

As for our allies, the new US ambassador appears to have found his footing. As already stated earlier, Japan has actually increased its commitment. On the domestic front, the President continues to enjoy broad base support (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=286.0).
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 04:16:49 AM
Step Two: Acclimatize China to submitting to Philippine law

Once a dialogue is established, the next step is to test that relationship with activities that are, at the very least mutually beneficial, if not heavily slanted in favor of the Filipino people.

Conducting joint military exercises is a quick-win, as it establishes lines of communication that could be called upon in the event of contentious encounters. For example, both countries pledged to work towards greater cooperation, and establish a hotline (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=907.0) between their respective coast guard organizations in December 2016. Bilateral exercises (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2012.0) are also being considered.

Beyond military engagements, government sanctioned commercial engagements would be the next logical confidence building measure. It also serves as a means for establishing precedent for getting China to conduct itself on Philippine terms. Commercial engagements are significant for the following reasons:

- It acclimates China to an environment where it is made to play by Philippine rules
- Creates a monetary incentive for China to obey those rules
- It creates a revenue stream that enables the Philippines to afford the acquisition of defenses in case China misbehaves

For commercial engagements, oil exploration is a logical starting point. With Malampaya nearing the end (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2114.0) of its useful life the Philippines needs to find a viable replacement and find it fast. Otherwise we will lose an irreplacable revenue stream for the AFP Modernization Trust Fund (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2878.0), which is allowed the DND-AFP to receive funds beyond what is allocated by the National Budget.

The Department of Energy has identified numerous potential drilling sites around the country for petroleum exploration, both within Philippine territorial waters and within the country's EEZ. Whether it be by design, or by happy circumstance, the first drill site to reach commercial viability is a site whose Service Contract had already been sub-contracted to a Chinese company for exploitation: The Alegria Oil Field in Cebu.

President Rodrigo Duterte dials the valve of one of the Polyard wells and the pipe (left side) lights up which signals fuel is coming out. The oilfield is located in Alegria, Cebu. Photo by Arni Aclao.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1-12.jpg)

Not only does the Alegria field serve as a viable supplement, and eventually an alternative, to Malamapaya, it serves as an acid test for PH-CN cooperation, which can then be use a template for future collaboration -- even in the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea.

The Alegria Oil field is not the only opportunity to test China's ability to behave itself. The Calamian oil field (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2171.0), which is covered by Service Contract 57 and had been awarded to a Chinese company since 2006, would be an incremental increase in Chinese involvement. Like Alegria, Calamian would be clearly within Philippine territory, and thus conducted under Philippine laws.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement days after he announced that there are two areas that may be subjected to joint exploration by the Philippines and China, namely SC 57 and SC 72.

< Edited >

“As far as 57 is concerned, they will comply with the decision with La Bugal (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2098.msg10972#msg10972) [ruling]. They can participate in exploration and exploitation provided, as the decision says, we have ultimate control over the exploration and the development,” Roque said.

The Palace official also confirmed that China would be under the control of the Philippines during the joint exploration on SC 57.

“They’re only a foreign entity engaged in exploration and development. But they have to do it under Philippine laws,” Roque said.


< Edited >

These test cases are not only important for PH-CN relations, it is also important for the morale of the country. While Duterte's supporters remain as rabid as ever, and Social Weather Survey (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=286.0) results show that the President continues to enjoy healthy popular support it, remains important to help the "the other side" get past the obfuscation-laden discourse and, at the very least, reach a common understanding of the plan. Because it is only with that common-understanding that a rational discussion about the merits, and demerits, of the plan can be had.

For both supporters and critics, ventures like the Alegria Oil field provide an opportunity to observe how the Chinese government conducts business, and see for themselves if China will attempt to replicate the horror stories (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1583.0) reported in other countries: from debt traps to deals that allegedly impose a form of neo-colonialism (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1583.msg5711#msg5711) in partner countries.

While the administrator's detractors point to these international examples as the inevitable outcome of the President's pivot-to-China and are integral to their allegations of Duterte's intent to "sell-out" to China, the 4th option actually requires the country to muster the fortitude to court danger -- to create the monetary incentive mentioned earlier and coax China have skin-in-the-game with a rules-based relationship with the Philippines -- while firmly keeping all enforceable agreements within the bounds of what is in the best interests of the Philippines.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 04:28:42 AM
Step Three: Ongoing cooperation

Step 1 initiated a re-boot of CN-PH communications. However, this could only halt Chinese encroachment and buy time for subsequent steps. Desperate times called for desperate measures and the administration did not shy away from resorting to unconventional, even embarrassing, methods that critics have labelled as anything from "appeasement" to being outright disgraceful. Thus far, despite the controversy over these triage measures, this approach appears to be working.

Step 2 established mechanisms designed to acclimatize China to observing Philippine law. Activities in this stage range from establishing hotlines between Chinese and Philippine agencies, to leveraging Department of Energy Service Contracts to open commercial activity with Chinese companies.

Theoretically, Chinese investment in ventures that required a measure of stability in CN-PH relations would create financial incentives for the Chinese government to "behave" in it its dealings with Philippines. Financial self-interest on part of the Chinese -- not the threat of war -- was the administration's preferred approach for de-escalation of tensions, and for achieving the previously stated goal of getting China to accept the Philippine point-of-view.

Step 3 builds upon whatever progress the previous steps achieved. This would require even greater commercial engagement with China. So much so that it would actually compel China to respect Philippine law and Philippine claims, to avoid jeopardizing these investments. Therefore, instead merely fearing Chinese embargoes on Philippine goods as things stand today, Duterte's desired end-state would have China experience "economic pain" should it choose to violate Philippine interests.

Of the three steps, this is arguably the most challenging, and the one that must be handled with the most care. In an ideal world, this step would not even be undertaken till after achieving national-buy-in to the "4th option". But with the 2 of the 6 years of the administration already part of history and much more that to be done in the same unconventional manner as in previous steps -- Duterte has little choice but to forge ahead with his existing mandate.

The irony of the disconnect between the President and his critics is that they are both ultimately moving towards the same objective. The 4th option, particularly Step 3 discussed here, will actually better enable protests like the one shown below by making them more meaningful. Conducting a boycott like this today -- as the administration's critics insist, as "proof" of his allegiance to the country -- would ultimately be futile, as China is not sufficiently invested in the Philippines to be affected by it. Once commercial engagements related to the 4th option take hold, the Philippines would actually have resources that it could boycott, that would be of value to China.

Photo c/o USP4GG

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-15.jpg)

The pain points that a Philippine reprisal to Chinese aggression could range from nationalization of Chinese assets to cessation of loan payments. The country's PRIMARY defense, therefore, lay not in fighters, missiles, or submarines. Instead, it lay in the threat of economic retaliation -- essentially taking a page from the Chinese playbook and using it against them. The DND-AFP would then be used as a SECOND line of defense should China retaliate with force -- an act that would present our allies with "righteous justification" to come to our aid . . . IF it were even needed in the first place.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-19.jpg)

In contrast, Carpio's 3rd option could actually be spun as a juvenile poking-of-the-dragon. Political support for instigation -- as opposed to retaliation as would be the case with the 4th option -- would arguably be weaker, if not non-existent.

Step 2 created preliminary commercial engagements c/o of cooperation in the energy sector. However, to achieve the desired effect of creating a meaningful economic deterrent, much larger engagements -- valued in the billions -- would be needed. It is clear that the vehicle for this deterrent would be China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the associated loans.

Arguably, the following are key facets of this step:

Continued build up of Philippine economic defenses (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12006#msg12006)
Learn from the experiences of Sri Lanka, et. al. (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12007#msg12007)
Pakistan's gamble (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12008#msg12008)
Israel & Indonesia: Dancing with a dragon (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12009#msg12009)
A strategy for winning, rather than a strategy for "how not to lose" (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12010#msg12010)
Responding to Chinese aggression (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12012#msg12012)

While the list above is, by itself, dauntingly ambitious, the ultimate challenge to the "4th option" was the fact that it would be virtually impossible to complete them in the time that was left on the administration's term. The various programs designed to prepare the country to retake its own EEZ, would require a succession of administrations to implement, and it will require a whole-nation effort that will require multiple executive departments to work together to shepherd the effort. The Department of National of Defense cannot conceivably undertake this alone.

Only time will tell if the policy endures.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 04:45:25 AM
Continued build up of Philippine economic defenses

If the Philippines is to muster the economic resources to be able to defend itself against Chinese aggression, it cannot focus solely on its collaborative efforts with China on the energy sector, or on the generosity of its allies such as the United States. It actually needs genuine progress as a nation. A sustainable response to Chinese aggression isn't just about buying weaponry, it is actually about making the Philippines -- as a country -- globally competitive. 

A globally competitive Philippines is a national imperative, and essential for the defense of the Republic of the Philippines.

As part of its mandate to promote national progress, the National Economic & Development Authority (NEDA) maintains the Philippine Development Plan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1010.0). This plan outlines how the government intends to improve the lives of the citizens it is supposed to serve. Among the metrics it uses measure progress of the plan is the annual Global Competitive Index, maintained by the World Economic Forum. This index ranked perceptions about the difficulty of doing business in specific countries.

According to the Competitiveness Report (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1010.msg11691#msg11691) (WEF-GCR)  2015-2016, the  Philippines  ranked 97th out of 140 countries in terms of quality of road infrastructure and 84th our of 140 countries for the quality of rail infrastructure. The following spider chart shows how the Philippines compared with other countries in East Asia and the Pacific.

From: http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-index-2017-2018/countryeconomy-profiles/#economy=PHL

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2-7.jpg)

One key area where the Philippines lagged was infrastructure. Addressing this deficiency will enable improvements in other areas of national concern. Bridges and roads that allow the transport of goods and services for the benefit of the national economy, will also allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines to respond to threats and crises faster and with more resources.

The trillion-peso question, therefore, is: If the Philippines needs to invest in its infrastructure anyway, why not use this need for investment as an opportunity to leverage the 4th option?

Enter the administration's much maligned "build, build, build" program, which seeks to initiate, or complete, 64 major infrastructure projects (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1132.0) whose total value is expected to reach PHP1.832 trillion by 2022. This flagship program is essentially an acceleration of construction programs that had been started as far back as the Marcos administration. Elements of the plan actually dovetails with the 70s-era Philippine Japan Friendship Road, whose landmark achievement was the completion of the San Juanico Bridge.

From: http://www.pncc.ph/projects_marcosbridge.htm

Client    : Ministry of Public Highways         
Location    : Western Samar and Northern Leyte Provinces
Contract Value    : Php 85,000,000.00
Completion Date    : July 3, 1974

Linking Western Samar to Northern Leyte, the San Juanico Bridge is the vitak link in the projected 1,500 km. Pan-Philippine Highway.

Strecthing 2.16 km., this is the country's longest steel bridge at that time.  Concrete approach roads total 7.62 km. on both ends of the bridge.  The bridge has abutments founded on steel H-piles.  Piers are rock seated pedestals built by the "Prepakt" method, having single cylindrical shafts and tapered cantilivered copings.

The superstructure consists of 43 steels spans, the main being 192 meters long.  The bridge has aluminum railings and is illuminated with flourescent mercury vapor lamps.  It provides airway beacon and navigational lights at its center span.


====

Photo credit to owners

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/San_juanico_bridge_1.png)

The need to bridge the major islands of the archipelago has been on the national agenda for decades, but had never gone beyond the planning stage. Duterte sought to realize these dreams -- among others -- as a way to jump start development of the countryside, and he wanted to start as many of these projects during his term. Other bridges in this plan appear below.

https://www.facebook.com/DOFPH/photos/a.280593182101972.1073741827.280557962105494/886616511499633/?type=3&theater

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/5-1.png)

Heavy media reporting on Chinese interest in participating in infrastructure projects, visibly egged on by the President who openly welcomed Beijing's involvement (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3361.0), drew vehement criticism from observers who branded Duterte's behavior as "selling out to China". Critics often question the wisdom of entertaining loan offers from China (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3642.0) given the availability of historically superior offerings from either Japan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1644.0) (between 0.25 and 0.75%) or South Korea (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3544.0) (0.15% interest rate for 40 years).

If the dangers posed by Chinese loans are viewed in complete isolation -- without thinking about the underlying strategy behind such actions -- the cautionary notes from Duterte's critics would be totally valid. There are, after all, many examples (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3597.msg11633#msg11633) of countries that availed these credit facilities and then became indebted to China to such an extent that that their sovereignty is threatened.

However, when Duterte's 4th option is taken into account, then it becomes clear that this risk has purpose. Any loans accepted from China are actually CALCULATED risks taken in support of Step 3 of the President's Kobayashi Maru strategy. While counter-intuitive to sino-phobic observers, the power of the Philippines' retaliatory capability is actually proportional to the size of Chinese involvement in the 4th option. As will be discussed later, the Philippines is not alone in this approach.

Malacanang is not oblivious to the advantages of loans from the Philippines' traditional lenders. In fact, the administration continues to court Japanese and Korean investment. While Japanese and Korean loans tend to be cheaper, geopolitical decisions have a role to play. The decision to avail of Chinese credit isn't solely based on prevailing interest rates: the 4th option.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary, Ernesto Pernia, shared the following insight into the thinking behind exploring Chinese involvement.

PH securing financing from China to speed up infra projects: Pernia
By Leslie Gatpolintan  February 21, 2018, 9:30 pm

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1026070

MANILA -- The Philippine government is securing financing from China for its infrastructure projects in an effort to fast-track their implementation, according to the country’s chief economist.

During the joint membership meeting of the Makati Business Club and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said China charges the loans with an interest rate of 2 to 3 percent, while that of Japan is only at 0.25 to 0.75 percent. 

“We cannot get all the loans from the ODA (official development assistance) of Japan. They have to give to other countries as well… Between 2 and 3-percent interest rate is still much better than commercial (loans),” he told reporters.

While the Philippines has long standing good relations with Japan, Pernia noted Japan’s   slowness in the processing of projects.

“We don’t want to be left behind,” he said, stressing China has been aggressive in financing Philippine projects. 

But Pernia, also Director-General of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), stressed that the country has not signed yet any loan agreement with China. 

He also reassured that mechanisms would put into place for Chinese companies keen on participating in the government’s infrastructure program.

< Edited >

Philippines 'extra careful' with China loans – NEDA
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia says he is well-aware of the experiences of countries like Sri Lanka which fell into Beijing's debt-trap diplomacy

Ralf Rivas
Published 4:30 PM, June 27, 2018
Updated 4:30 PM, June 27, 2018

https://www.rappler.com/business/205903-philippine-government-extra-careful-china-loans-neda

MANILA, Philippines– The government is "extra careful" not to fall into the Chinese debt trap, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Wednesday, June 27.

"Given the various experiences already felt by the other countries that have already dealt with China, we are more cautious," said Pernia, the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The socioeconomic planning chief was reacting to recent news reports underscoring how a port in Sri Lanka was taken over by China because the former could no longer pay for it.

Sri Lanka pushed through with the $1-billion project despite feasibility studies concluding that it would not work.

< Edited >

Pernia said only one China-funded infrastructure project has been signed and started.

Beijing has loaned the Philippine government P3.14 billion for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project. The project drew flak since the loan carried an interest of 2% a year and will mature in 20 years. (READ: Locals protest Duterte admin's Chico River project)

< Edited >

Chinese loans are not a replacement for credit facilities from Japan, South Korea, or our other traditional lenders. They simply diversify the credit-source mix by way of credit instruments that have a different -- arguably less stringent -- vetting process. The high interest rates of Beijing's loans are the price of expediency and ease of access.
 
Consider how Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing are involved in the Negros-Guimaras-Panay bridge (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3344.0). All potential lenders have been given a chance to conduct their respective studies, and present their respective proposals. While Japan has been party to discussions about these bridges since 1999, it will be interesting to see how China's arrival on the scene will shape how the project unfolds and what a blended approach to funding will look like.

Administrator's note: Companion discussion on the forum's FB extension available here (https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1643717325714108/)

====

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) completed one of the first, if not the first, feasibility study that defined the how, why, and what-for of the two-bridge project that would connect Panay, Guimaras, and Negros in 1999. While nothing came of the original project, which was then estimated to cost P53B, Japan's mindshare in the project was assured. With Japan's history of favorable rates, and existing relations with the bureaucracy, particularly the Department of Transportation, this makes Japan an obvious front-runner in this long-running effort.

The Export-Import Bank of Korea has started making in-roads into the Philippine infrastructure-building and in 2016, signed the loan agreement that initiated construction of the P4.8B Panguil Bay bridge (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3343.0) that would bridge Tubod in Lanao del Norte and the City of Tangub in Misamis Occidental. The bank has also started its own feasibility study of the two-bridge project.

China Communications Construction Co., Ltd. (CCCC) stated its own feasibility of the bridge project and was expected to release its findings in 2017. In apparent recognition of the fact that it was late to the table, CCCC reportedly offered to conduct their feasibility study for free. An notable aspect of the Chinese offer, as related by DPWH Secretary Manny Villar, was that their plan reportedly would build both bridges simultaneously thus ensuring a faster return-on-investment for the project.

Only time will tell which if the three reign supreme in the battle of the bridges

Japan     South Korea     China
(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/1200px-Flag_of_Japan.svg_.png)     (http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2000px-Flag_of_South_Korea.svg_-1.png)     (http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2000px-Flag_of_the_Peoples_Republic_of_China.svg_.png)
           
Agency Japan International Cooperation Agency     Export-Import Bank of Korea     China Communications Construction Co. Ltd
           
Feasibility study completion     1999           2017 (expected)

There can be no reward without risk. The President is clearly banking on his economic team -- and inner-circle which includes the likes of Cesar Virata (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3707.0) -- being able to navigate the country around the pitfalls of Chinese loans. Judicious use of these facilities would thoroughly empower the 4th option, and strengthen the Philippines' defensive position.

It is also worth noting that "strengthening of defenses" isn't limited to industrial development or military power. It is also as much about giving the average Filipino a sense of progress. That their localities, their provinces, are given their due share of development and that wealth creation is not unduly concentrated in the capital.

The boost to nationalist sentiment and the country's morale, that tangible pursuit of projects like the one below will cause will arguably be more sustainable than the short-term impact of patriotic displays inspired by public protests. While Carpio's 3rd option puts the cart before the horse, Duterte's 4th option works to get its priorities with the horse in order. With that nationalism . . . comes the political will to truly fund the country's defense . . . and with it, the means to prevail against China. 

The current administration's efforts to rehabilitate the Philippine National Railway (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3870.0) has been divided into its North Railway (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3873.0), which aims to build a railway from Manila to Clark Airport (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=782.msg12679#msg12679) . . .

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/1-18.jpg)

. . . and its Bicol Express (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2530.0) from Manila to Legaspi City in Bicol.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/1-20.jpg)

Whereas the North rail is financed by Japan to JICA and the Asian Development Bank, the Bicol Express is funded by China.

Beyond the railway system on Luzon, the "4th option" also includes the first ever railway in Mindanao.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Mindanao-Railway-plan.jpg)
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 05:09:23 AM
Learn from the experiences of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, et. al.

When critics bring up the folly of joining Xi Jinping's Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), discussions inevitably involve the current state of affairs in Sri Lanka.


Sri Lanka

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2000px-Flag_of_Sri_Lanka.svg_.png)
   
   


China's Xi offers fresh $295 million grant to Sri Lanka (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3703.0)
Sri Lanka accepts a US$1 billion, eight-year loan from China Development Bank (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3712.0)
China and Sri Lanka's Hambantota port (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3622.0)
China and Sri Lanka's Mattala International Airport (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3623.0)

Sri Lanka has become a cautionary tale for what can go very wrong when accepting Chinese loans.  China-Sri Lankan cooperation started growing in 2007 when China provided military and diplomatic support for the country's efforts to crush Tamil rebels. After successful conclusion of that conflict, credit facilities were then applied to reconstruction efforts. By 2017, debt represented 77.60% of Sri Lanka's GDP. The country then had to resort to extreme measures to reduce its debt burden. See below.

Sri Lanka: A country trapped in debt
By Yogita Limaye
BBC News, Sri Lanka
 25 May 2017 Business

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-40044113

< Edited >

Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka . . .

< Edited >

Unaffordable'

Hambantota was built by a Chinese company and funded by Chinese loans.

But now Sri Lanka is struggling to repay that money, and so has signed an agreement to give a Chinese firm a stake in the port as a way of paying down some of that debt.

The terms of the deal are still being debated in Sri Lanka's parliament, but the share it gives could be as high as 80%.

< Edited >

While Philippine pundits are aghast at the prospect of Chinese loans with interest rates of 2 or 3 percent, which are significantly higher than the Japanese loans (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1644.0) that between 0.25 and 0.75% or South Korean (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3544.0) facilities that were offered at 0.15% interest rate for 40 years, Sri Lanka was granted an 8-year $1B loan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3712.0) -- which was designed to cover loan repayments that were coming due in 2019 -- with an effective interest rate of 5.3%.

The difference between the terms offered to Sri Lanka and terms offered to the Philippines illustrates how direct comparisons between the experience of different countries are actually difficult to make. More details later in this paper.

The Sri Lankan experience with China's buyer-beware approach to aid is not unique. Other countries that are either already in the same situation, or on the way to it, include:

Djibouti

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-8.jpg)
     
Djibouti Opens Chinese-Backed Free Trade Zone
Mohamed Siad Doualeh / Twitter

By MarEx 2018-07-12 16:58:16

https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/djibouti-opens-chinese-backed-free-trade-zone#gs.qht0Yzk

Djibouti has opened the first phase of an ambitious project to build an 18-square-mile, $3.5 billion free trade zone, the largest development of its kind in Africa.

< Edited >

However, the initiative has also raised concerns about Djibouti's legal liability and debt burden . . .

. . . and financial analysts say that the construction costs will make the nation overly dependent upon Chinese financing.

< Edited >

According to an analysis from the Center for Global Development, Djibouti has already accumulated government debt equal to about 85 percent of its GDP, almost all of it lent by Chinese entities. The debt could give China leverage to demand additional concessions, like rights for port operations or an increased forward-deployed military presence.

< Edited >
Kenya

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/640px-Flag_of_Kenya.svg_.png)
     
Why Chinese Infrastructure Loans in Africa Represent a Brand-New Type of Neocolonialism
How will African countries repay massive debts to China?

By Xiaochen Su
June 09, 2017
     
http://thediplomat.com/2017/06/why-chinese-infrastructural-loans-in-africa-represent-a-brand-new-type-of-neocolonialism/
 
Amid much fanfare, the Nairobi-Mombasa railway line opened in Kenya on May 31, 18 months ahead of the schedule. It represents the second major railway undertaken by China on the African continent recently, after the launch of Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway in January.

< Edited >

But there is strong doubt as to whether African countries have the financial capabilities to put such ambitious plans in action. In the case of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, for instance, its total building cost of roughly $4 billion is almost a quarter of Ethiopia’s 2016 government budget of $12.57 billion. Even at concessional rates, servicing and repaying the debt will be a significant burden for the government in the coming years and decades. It is unfathomable how that the government will be able to undertake other infrastructural projects even if the economy, and the government budget, grow at a steady clip, as it has done in recent years.

It begs the question, then, of how African governments will possibly repay the Chinese for all this infrastructure construction. Given the ballooning amount of debt from more and more loans taken on to finance infrastructural developments in the future, African states are likely to require more than just portions of their limited budgets to complete repayment. More likely than not, many states will have to resort to payments in kind.

The concept of “in-kind payments” smacks of colonialism in some ways. The historical precedent of European colonists comes to mind.  Europeans built infrastructure in Africa at the turn of the century, purportedly also for local economic development, but in essence the projects were used for natural resource extraction.

< Edited >
Laos

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-10.jpg)
Laos merely a bystander as China pushes Belt and Road ambitions

Costly China-led railway project offers questionable benefits to host
MARIMI KISHIMOTO, Nikkei staff writer
October 06, 2017 11:45 JST

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Laos-merely-a-bystander-as-China-pushes-Belt-and-Road-ambitions

LUANG PRABANG, Laos -- An ambitious $6 billion high-speed railway project in Laos that would link China with the Laotian capital of Vientiane on the Thai border is meant to be a symbol of cooperation under Chinese President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative. But with Beijing calling the shots and leaving out locals, it has instead become another example of the pitfalls faced by small Southeast Asian countries in relying economically on their much larger neighbor.

Situated about a 20-minute drive from this ancient former capital of Laos is a construction site that could be described as a little China. Workers' conversation is all in Chinese, as is an instruction manual for heavy machinery resting on a drum. No one at the site, not even the foreman, can speak the local language.

One worker, asked where he hailed from, curtly replied "China," adding that he was there only because his boss told him to go.

< Edited >

Initial estimates indicated that building the railway would require 100,000 workers. For Laos, which lacks much notable industry aside from exporting hydroelectric power and mining such resources as copper and bauxite, this seemed like a golden opportunity to spur new activity and create jobs.

But these hopes have been dashed. All of the construction work was handed off to China Railway Group, and Chinese engineers and laborers have descended on the country in droves.

Not even the Laotian government is clear on the exact number of Chinese workers in the country. "We want to use local labor as much as possible, but ... " lamented Lattanamany Khounnyvong, vice minister of public works and transport, whose purview includes the rail project.

Lattanamany was alluding to the massive leverage held by China, which is shouldering 70% of the cost of the project. With no experience with railway construction, Laos "has no choice but to depend on China" for technology and personnel, Lattanamany said.

< Edited >

Because of the country's mountainous terrain and many rivers, the project entails building dozens of tunnels and some 170 bridges. The total cost is nearly twice the Laotian government's $3.6 billion annual budget. How necessary the railway is for a country with a population of just 6.9 million is debatable.

The government is responsible for 40% of Laos' share of the costs, or $730 million. It is borrowing 65% of this sum from China -- a debt that will be burdensome to repay.

< Edited >

Maldives

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-9.jpg)
       
The Maldives Crisis and the China-India Chess Match

The state of emergency comes amid a high stakes game of regional rivalry.
By Sunaina Kumar and Angela Stanzel
March 15, 2018
 
https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-maldives-crisis-and-the-china-india-chess-match/

< Edited >

The inception of the crisis goes back to 2013, when Yameen staged a coup and wrested power from the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammad Nasheed, who has since been living in exile in Sri Lanka. Soon after Yameen declared the emergency last month, Nasheed reached out to India and requested a military intervention to resolve the crisis.

< Edited >

Yameen, during his first official visit abroad to India in 2014, said that while the Maldives has “close ties” with China, “nothing will precede ties with India, which are far more precious.” However, his actions have not matched those words. Today, Chinese loans for projects already account for around 70 percent of the Maldives’ national debt. From his exile, Nasheed has accused the Yameen government of allowing a Chinese “‘land grab’ of Maldivian islands, key infrastructure, and even essential utilities,” which in his view “not only undermines the independence of the Maldives, but the security of the entire Indian Ocean region.” China has dismissed accusations from the former leader Nasheed as “absolute nonsense.”

Nevertheless, China’s massive lending to the Maldives puts into question the island state’s ability to repay its debts, with speculation that this translates into increasing political leverage for China. In addition, it appears that the BRI is not only about increasing economic ties but also about expanding China’s geostrategic ventures in the maritime realm. In August 2017, three Chinese warships docked in the Maldives for joint training sessions. More recently, amid the state of emergency in the Maldives, 11 Chinese warships reportedly sailed into the eastern Indian Ocean in February. Some assume this “may have helped deter an Indian intervention in the Maldives.”

< Edited >

The prevailing narrative in the Western press, and by extension the Philippine media and the administration's critics, has come to equate any engagement with China as a replication of the Sri Lankan quagmire. This perception is not without merit, and is driven by a combination of Sri Lankan governance-mis-steps, and China's geopolitical policies. The following internal critique of China's foreign policy emphasizes the self-serving nature of Chinese foreign policy, in the words a Chinese analyst / journalist imploring China to recognize the counter-productive nature of its default foreign policy

How to Understand China’s Foreign Policy
China can become a beacon for the world -- if it trades in its conservative foreign policy for one that emphasizes universal values.
BY DENG YUWEN | APRIL 23, 2013, 5:30 PM

https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/04/23/how-to-understand-chinas-foreign-policy/

With Xi Jinping’s elevation to the presidency in March, China’s leadership transition is now complete. Yet Beijing still has not elevated foreign affairs to the top level of decision making — it still prioritizes its domestic situation, even though China is the world’s second-largest economy, with interests that stretch across the globe.

Indeed, China remains constrained by its own internal problems, including the rise of nationalism; defects in democracy and human rights; lagging political reform; an unbalanced economy; and the dangers posed by a society in transformation. These problems mold Beijing’s current conservative foreign policy, which focuses on avoiding problems. When a problem happens, China’s Foreign Ministry mobilizes all of its resources to extinguish it — the same strategy it deploys with domestic affairs.

< Edited >

Beijing’s international economic affairs policy, meanwhile, lacks principles. It needs to stop emphasizing profit and ignoring justice, and start emphasizing both. Its diplomacy now serves the domestic economy. As a country with a relatively low per capita income, and a relatively large number of poor people, that is necessary, for now. But economic diplomacy doesn’t mean ignoring human justice, or some of the most basic international moralities. Beijing has been giving up the moral high ground when it should have been holding fast to it.

Yes, Third World countries should be allowed to prioritize "peaceful development." And Beijing’s advocacy of this concept has been a useful counterweight to the West’s aggressive human rights diplomacy. However, when large-scale human rights violations erupt around the world, development has to give way to human rights. At the very least, the two should be equally important.

< Edited >

While these in-progress economic disasters are worth noting, it is also important to assess if these are actually applicable to the Philippines. The following table presents points-to-ponder when assessing the likelihood that the Philippines will follow the same downward slide.

     Philippines   Sri Lanka     Djibouti     Kenya     Laos     Maldives
                                       
Competitiveness ranking (137)     56   85     n/a     91     98     n/a
                                       
Population     106,512,074   20,950,041     971,408     50,950,879     6,961,210     444,259
                                       
GDP (official exchange rate, 2017)     $313.4B   $83.57B     $2.082B     $78.29B     $17.15B     $4.648B
                                       
Revenues     $49.07B   $12.64B     $699.8M     $15.43B     $3.144B     $1.19B

Sources:

http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-index-2017-2018/countryeconomy-profiles/#economy=PHL
http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html


The competitive rating that the Philippines earned vis-a-vis the other countries in the table, plus the relative economic potential c/o of population size and GDP should make readers question:

"Wouldn't the Philippines be better able to gamble with China?"

"Should they even be compared?"

"Given the strength of the Philippine financial sector . . . would it really make the same mistakes as it pursued the 4th option?"

Only time will tell. However, as the next posts will illustrate, disaster is not a forgone conclusion when dealing with China and the BRI.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 05:25:12 AM
Pakistan's gamble

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-22.jpg)

Another country whose finances are under Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI)-driven stress is Pakistan. In June of this year, Pakistan had to avail of a $1B emergency loan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3653.0) from China to address a foreign exchange crisis. The loan boosted Islamabad's reserves to cover two months of imports. Imports that were made necessary by machinery acquisitions related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Center for Global Development (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1583.msg11673#msg11673), a Washington-based think-tank, identified 68 countries that were potential BRI-borrowers, and concluded that among this number 8 were likely to face challenges servicing their debt. The country that flagged as facing the largest risk is Pakistan.

Whatever the outcome of this BRI-generated crisis, Pakistan remains an example of a country that chooses to gamble on their ability to beat China at its own game. Pakistan's reaction to these ominous warnings is a simple . . . albeit risky . . . geopolitical response.

Is China's Belt and Road working? A progress report from eight countries

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Cover-Story/Is-China-s-Belt-and-Road-working-A-progress-report-from-eight-countries

< Edited >
 
Mushtaq Khan, an economist and former chief economic adviser at the State Bank of Pakistan, acknowledges that the country's debt to China is rising. But he says Beijing "cannot afford" to bankrupt Pakistan -- in part because of the country's importance as a counterweight to India, a regional rival of China's.

"China's primary interest in Pakistan is geopolitical rather than strictly economic, and therefore, for China, repayment of the debt burden will be secondary to maintaining a good political and economic relationship with Pakistan," he said.

< Edited >

The basis for this belief is simple: China needs Pakistan . . . and Pakistan knows it.

A failed Pakistan not only represents a loss of investment, a loss of a friendly hedge against India, it will also be a liability on China's border. A border with its Xinjiang province — the home to its problematic Muslim Uyghur (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=121.0) population. An unstable Pakistan is a potential for avenue for extremist fighters that could potentially stoke the fires of Uyghur nationalism.

The Human Costs of Controlling Xinjiang
Beijing has strong incentives to exert control in Xinjiang. The Uyghurs pay the price.

By Zachary Torrey
October 10, 2017
     
 https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/the-human-costs-of-controlling-xinjiang/
 
The Uyghurs, one of the largest ethnic minority groups in China, have an unfortunate lot. As a group, they possess two key factors which encourage the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to repress them. First, they have a strong ethnic identity which is separate from the principal Han ethnic group which dominates the CCP. Indeed, many Uyghurs are beginning to view a major component of their identity as “being non-Han.” Second, the land they inhabit, Xinjiang Province, is rich in resources and economic importance. It holds one-third of the country’s natural gas and oil reserves in addition to large deposits of gold, uranium, and other minerals. Renewable energy also factors in: Xinjiang is a prime location to harvest solar, wind, and nuclear energy. Moreover, Xinjiang sits along the historic Silk Road, which the CCP is intent on rebuilding via its Belt and Road Initiative.

< Edited >

The Chinese Communist Party views Xinjiang Province and its Uyghur population as a potential hotbed for separatism, what the party terms “splittism.” This stems from the Uyghur’s strong and non-Han ethnic identity. Further, the Uyghurs are concentrated in Xinjiang; 49 percent of Xinjiang’s 20 million people are Uyghurs, and few Uyghurs live in China’s other provinces. This density, the CCP believes, adds fuel to secessionist fires. A major component of the perceived difference is religion: the vast majority of Uyghurs are Muslim and consider Islam a defining part of their ethnic identity. In addition, Uyghur literary and cultural traditions differ greatly from the Han Chinese, often seeing the Han as foreign imperialists while Uyghur historical heroes are those who fought against the Chinese empires. The Uyghurs do not even speak a Chinese language; their language, simply called Uyghur, is a Turkic tongue using Arabic script.

< Edited >

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connects the Uyghur nation, which China refers to as the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, with access to the Indian Ocean, thus opening it up for economic development with all its pacification benefits. For this reason, it is unlikely that China would ever "turn off the tap" on aid to Pakistan.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor . . . . . . ends in the province of the Uyghur
(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/cpec.jpg)
(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/13-114_CHINA_updated-provs.png)

This is geopolitical Mutually Assured Destruction at its finest. While Pakistan’s finances are under China’s control, Pakistan’s role in Central Asia gives China multi-dimensional incentives to “see things Pakistan’s way.”

How much of Duterte’s own calculations draws inspiration from this model is unclear. But the key components of the Kobayashi Maru / 4th option are there:

- Pakistan gets what it wants (e.g., infrastructure, economic development catalyst, etc.)
- China's military power is muted by its geopolitical needs

In light of the latter,  it would be reasonable to ask: "Who REALLY has who over a barrel"?

Only time will tell if Pakistan's pact-with-the-devil bears fruit.

Pakistan's solution, however, will only work for Pakistan. It is not a model that can be readily replicated by other nations developing their own solutions to the problem posed by China's rise. Nevertheless, it remains noteworthy for its home-grown character, driven by its own agenda and not those of external influences.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 06:40:53 AM
Israel & Indonesia: Dancing with a dragon

Despite the well-publicized problems related to participation in BRI, not all countries that choose to engage China are actually automatically at a disadvantage. Duterte's critics who've latched on the Sri Lankan experience with Chinese loans as evidence of treason, have chosen to dwell solely only on situations where Chinese aid is used irresponsibly. They ignore instances where countries have entered into Chinese arrangements with eyes-wide-open and with a proper plan.

The following are examples of countries that appear to be holding their own.

Debtor Projects


Indonesia

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/450px-Flag_of_Indonesia.svg_.png)


Indonesia poised to benefit as China's Belt and Road turns green (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3659.0)
Indonesia, China sign US$23.3 billion cooperation contracts under Belt and Road (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3521.0)

Israel

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/660px-Flag_of_Israel.svg_.png)


China's Belt and Road initiative: What's in it for Israel? (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3658.0)
Chinese Company to Run New Haifa Port (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3665.0)

Malaysia

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2800px-Flag_of_Malaysia.svg_.png)


China’s Belt and Road: What’s in it for Malaysia? (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3660.0)

Singapore

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2560px-Flag_of_Singapore.svg_.png)


Belt and Road Initiative a focal point for Singapore's ties with China (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3713.0)

Thailand

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/900px-Flag_of_Thailand.svg_.png)


Thailand Says $44 Billion Project Can Link to Belt and Road (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3714.0)

Israel's dragon dance

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2-8.jpg)

Israel's perspective on its dealings with China merit a closer look. It is food for thought for pundits who have come to equate Chinese engagement with either treason or disaster.

The following article looks at the baseline conventional-wisdom commentary about the challenge to the established world-order that the Belt-Road Initiative presents.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-11.jpg)

China's Belt and Road initiative: What's in it for Israel?
The initiative is "the new game in town" for China - and perhaps Israel.
By TERRANCE MINTNER
January 10, 2018 21:18

https://www.jpost.com/Jpost-Tech/Business-and-Innovation/Chinas-Belt-and-Road-initiative-Whats-in-it-for-Israel-533408

< Edited >

What is Belt and Road, broadly speaking? Richard Griffiths is a professor of international studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. His recent book, Revitalising the Silk Road: China’s Belt and Road Initiative, takes a long-term, historical perspective of the Silk Road trading routes. Griffiths shows how the Silk Road – by connecting Europe to Chinese civilization thousands of years ago – reshaped much of the world’s commerce and culture. He then looks at how Xi is reinventing the memory of this ancient route for our times.

< Edited >

Right off the bat, it’s easy for Westerners to be skeptical. We are used to seeing European countries or America as the privileged players when it comes to these kinds of global investments. China, in this sense, seems the undeserving upstart.

“Because it is China, and because China is a ‘rising power,’ the initiative has been greeted by suspicion and scorn – its ambition derided and its occasional setbacks magnified to the point of ridicule,” Griffiths said.

As with many matters, context is everything. Griffiths continues to provide context that deserves to be taken with a grain of salt, BUT should not be dismissed outright. To do so could very well result in a misreading of both dangers and opportunities.

Instead of heaping on more disparagement, Griffiths offered three points to better place China’s efforts in context. First, he said, China’s plans to improve its energy and transportation position in Eurasia are not new. Second, China has been part of these planning efforts, though not as the leading partner. Third, national and international aid organizations and private businesses have been, and still are, active in constructing infrastructure in the region.

“What is new and different,” he said, “is China’s willingness to commit its financial resources and expertise to making things happen.”

The last line above summarizes what is both good and bad about China's unprincipled use of its resources.

In the hands of depots, dictators, and other heads of state whose governments are not truly accountable to their respective populations, China's loose vetting process for its credit facilities can result in financial ruin for these countries, resulting in one-way benefits for China.

In contrast, when Chinese largess is put in the hands of technocrats who are taking calculated risks . . . the results are potentially much more favorable.

So, what does Israel stand to gain from it all? Israel is already gaining and can do so directly, Griffiths said.

< Edited >

But Israel can also gain indirectly, Griffiths said.

“Behind the efforts to improve connectivity lies the rationale that lowering ‘transaction costs’ [the costs involved in doing business] will stimulate demand,” he said. “Following this logic, Israel could work on reducing the costs of obtaining trade documentation or the time lost waiting at border crossings. Alternatively, it could more actively cut trade costs. A railway to Eilat, or between Ashdod and Eilat, would produce a major time-saving over the Suez route for both direct and for transit trade.”

The second half of the article, below, dwells on the opportunities that an alternative to existing funding vehicles (e.g., Asian Development Bank, World Bank, etc.) provides to any country inclined to use them. It also emphasizes that the end-goal encompasses both geopolitical and economic victories.

‘The new game in town’

Offering another perspective on Israel’s interests in the initiative is Alexander Pevzner, founding director of the Chinese Media Center, the only Israeli outlet that engages Chinese media in systematic dialogue over important issues and professional exchange. The center endeavors to promote understanding between the two peoples, thus enhancing bilateral relations.

< Edited >

It’s a bit like the EU, not in the sense of political, but of economic integration, Pevzner said, and as such, it offers an opportunity for Israel to participate in economic cooperation on a global scale. “If you are not there at the table, you miss out by definition,” he said.

THIS IS why Pevzner believes Belt and Road is so vital to Israel’s interests. Just by being involved in it, sitting at the table, Israel has a connection to countries with which it does not have diplomatic ties.

“So even if the immediate economic benefits are not so obvious – though I think there are and will be such benefits – it’s important for Israel just to be there,” he said.

But why have Muslim countries not opposed Israel’s participation in Belt and Road like they did for other international investment groups? Pevzner cited Israel wanting to join the Asian Development Bank in 1993. In the end, it couldn’t because Muslim countries were opposed.

Now, because of the Belt and Road initiative, we are there with Iran and Pakistan, as well as many Muslim and Arab countries, a situation that demonstrates China’s influence in bringing countries together,” he said. “That is a huge positive for Israel.”

Like Pakistan, Israel made its own geopolitical reckoning about what involvement in the BRI meant for them. As shown above, it wasn't all for the specifics of China's credit facilities. There were other far-reaching considerations.

====

Update

From: https://news.abs-cbn.com/overseas/multimedia/photo/09/03/18/duterte-meets-netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting in Jerusalem on Monday. President Duterte is also scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin and witness the signing of several partnership agreements with Israel.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/3-2.jpg)


Revisiting Indonesian calculations

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/in_cn.jpg)

As already stated earlier in this thesis, Indonesia was also mindful of the opportunities that continued relations with China would provide. 

Indonesia, China sign US$23.3 billion cooperation contracts under Belt and Road
Reporter: Suharto 
14th April 2018

https://en.antaranews.com/news/115354/indonesia-china-sign-us233-billion-cooperation-contracts-under-belt-and-road

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and China have signed five cooperation contracts worth US$23.3 billion under the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives.

< Edited >

"We want to see continued cooperation not only between the governments but also investors of the two countries," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Panjaitan noted in a press statement released on Friday.

< Edited >

As the Indonesian president`s special envoy to establish strategic cooperation with China, Panjaitan highlighted the importance of encouraging business relations between both nations in line with the national interests.

"We must be smart (as) all (countries are eying opportunities). It is a matter of being smart to eye opportunities to derive more benefits," he pointed out.

< Edited >

In the Philippines, Duterte's critics have seized upon his public inclination to avail of these Chinese loans as further evidence of Duterte's intention to "sell out" to China. They point to Sri Lanka, Laos, the Maldives, and a host of African countries as cautionary tales about the dangers of availing of Chinese assistance in pursuit of projects related the Belt and Road Initiative. Going so far as to equate dialogue with China with either treason or disaster.

These same critics, however, are either oblivious -- or have chosen to ignore . . .

. . . Pakistan's pursuit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, at the risk of economic ruin, on the calculation that China could not afford to allow it go bankrupt

. . . how Israel is parlaying access to Israeli tech, and participation in the BRI c/o of the Port of Haifa, to find common ground with its erstwhile enemies in the Arab world, with China as mediator . . .


. . . how Indonesia has its railway projects and its economic engagements with China.


The Philippines must make its own calculations. Today, such assessments come in the form of the 4th option.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 10:24:20 AM
A strategy for winning, rather than a strategy for "how not to lose"

Previous posts have already established that open war and surrender are unacceptable options. These posts have also outlined how Justice Carpio's preferred "third option" -- which puts all its faith on the US-PH Mutual Defense treaty, without a proper assessment of how that treaty really works -- actually lacks a meaningful end-game. In the final analysis, the Chief Justice's much publicized pronouncements are more of a defeatist, "bahala-na", prescription for "how not to lose" rather than a proper strategy for winning.

To achieve what Carpio wants to do, Duterte's "4th option" -- which reduces PH-CN tensions while building up its economic defenses --  needs to be given the leeway to work. That means continuation of the administration's continued use of use of low-key -- bilateral -- communication. Demands for open diplomatic protest over China's infractions — despite the establishment of grievance mechanisms — are actually counter-productive, run counter to efforts to dial-down the rhetoric, and undo the progress made in support of the 4th option. The financial-deterrent built up as a result of engagement with China, as well as the windfall benefits for the AFP modernization program, would be undone . . . and we would be back where we started in 2016: Waiting for China to resume its island building campaign without any realistic strategy for keeping such a catastrophe from happening.

The goal of the 4th option is to give China a incentive to respect Philippine law and obey Philippine instructions. That incentive is based on the threat of financial retaliation -- not military force. Picture a scenario where the Philippines unilaterally decides to default on its debts to China in retaliation for violations of the red lines that DFA secratary Cayetano laid out in May (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3477.0) of this year. This will adversely impact the Chinese financial institutions that are party to these loans, and would thus create powerful voices of dissent within China about their own actions towards the Philippines. The ripple effects of this action upon other countries who are themselves holders of Chinese debt would intolerably unpredictable for a China. More on this point later in this thesis.

The effectiveness of that incentive is proportional to the risk that China faces if it violates Philippine law and directives. For that reason, calibrated exposure to Chinese debt is actually an investment in the country's overall defense posture.

As outlined earlier, Pakistan and Israel have -- thus far -- all shown examples of how BRI investments can be made to work. Both have found their own respective, unique, approaches for managing risk with reward. The Philippines needs to distill these examples and develop its own equivalent initiatives. By the administration's calculation -- for good or for ill -- it apparently found part of the answer in its build-build-build program.

For the same reason that discussions about defense cannot be viewed in isolation -- it cannot just be about fighters, missiles, frigates, and other weapons -- the "build, build, build" program also cannot be viewed purely as being about infrastructure development or be measured bythe associated loan interest rates alone. It's value can only be properly assessed in terms of how it well it keep China at bay . . . and compliant.

The 3rd option actually needs to be pursued AFTER the 4th option. Only through progress with the 4th option can the Carpio approach even be contemplated . . . if it remains necessary at all.

The Philippines only has so many bridges and infrastructure projects it can build. It cannot afford to build indefinitely. So the measures outlined in steps 1 and 2 can really only go so far. To maintain, if not improve, the ability to strike back at China financially the Philippines actually needs to further broaden its economic engagement. At some point . . . the Philippines has to talk about the West Philippine Sea.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/malampaya-depletion-compression-platform-with-accommodation-unit.jpeg)

This is where discussions about the future of the 4th option becomes purely theoretical, as Duterte is unlikely to see the endgame of this gambit within his Presidency. Without indications about who the next President will be, and what his or her policies will be vis-a-vis the current template, all that any observer can offer is wild speculation in the form of "usapang barbero".

What is clear, however, is that the future of exploration ventures in the WPS will have to be a collaborative effort among multiple countries . . . to include unwelcome guests such as China. With the settling of territorial claims being unlikely in this generation, the most that could reasonably be expected is some form of a treaty between claimant nations.

Malacanang highlighted this need in March of this year with the following statement.

However, Roque said the same does not apply to SC 72 as there is an ongoing dispute in the said area between the Philippines and China.

SC 72 was awarded to Sterling Energy Ltd in June 2002. It is located in the West Philippine Sea, west of Palawan Island and southwest of the Shell-operated Malampaya Gas Field. SC 72 covers 8,800 square kilometers.

As to [SC] 72, the agreement on joint exploration will be governed by international law because there has to be a treaty to be signed between the Philippines and China first on the joint exploration before it can be implemented by juridical entities of the contracting states,” Roque said.

“That’s why if we enter into an agreement, we’ll have to spell out the respective rights and obligations of the parties by way of a compromise,” he added.

< Edited >

Duterte can only complete steps 1 and 2 of the 4th option, and lay the ground work for the 3rd step. The Philippine ambassador to China described the ground-work efforts as follows:

PH, China to work out how to tap oil, gas that both sides claim
Published February 14, 2018, 2:42 PM
By Reuters

https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/02/14/ph-china-to-work-out-how-to-tap-oil-gas-that-both-sides-claim/

The Philippines and China have agreed to set up a special panel to work out how they can jointly explore oil and gas in part of the South China Sea that both sides lay claim without having to address the explosive issue of sovereignty.

China claims most of the South China Sea, where $3 billion in sea-borne trade pass every year, and has competing claims in various parts of it with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

“It’s just the start of a process,” Philippine ambassador to China, Chito Sta. Romana, told reporters late on Tuesday after diplomats from both sides met for the second time under a bilateral mechanism aimed at defusing longstanding maritime tensions.

He said the decision to form a working group on cooperating on energy was a “breakthrough”.

Forming an agreement for a joint project would be extremely complex and sensitive as both countries claim jurisdiction of the site of the oil and gas reserves, so sharing them could be deemed legitimizing the other side’s claim, or even ceding sovereign territory.

The idea of joint development was first hatched in 1986, but disputes and the sovereignty issue have stopped it from materializing.

But time is of the essence for the Philippines, which relies heavily on energy imports to fuel its fast-growing economy. That is complicated by estimates that its only domestic natural gas source, the offshore Malampaya field, will be depleted by 2024.

< Edited >


PRRD okays TWG on PH-China joint exploration
By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora  August 7, 2018, 6:07 pm

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1044041

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the establishment of a technical working group (TWG) on the Philippines-China joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Tuesday.

"I just got his approval in principle, but I can tell you that the areas where I want to have experts at the highest level, meaning we have Cabinet level," he told a press briefing in Taguig City.

For the environment, Cayetano said the TWG will have representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; for oil and gas, the Department of Energy; for security, the Department of National Defense, National Security Council, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

There will also be a legal team, composed of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General to advise and help in the negotiation stage.

"In our arbitration award, we had a team, there's a legal team. In this case, it's not a legal team that's going to file a case, but a legal team that's going to advise us and help us negotiate," he said.

The legal team will focus on three components -- on oil and gas, on Constitutional law, and on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Cayetano also disclosed that the Chinese side is ready with its own technical working group.

"I'll let them make their own announcements. But as soon as both sides have working groups, at least we can talk. I'm not sure if we can agree but at least we can start talking."

Cayetano said the timeline is still "as soon as possible."

With the creation of working groups on both sides, he said they are hoping to finish the draft framework by September 2018.

"I am even more optimistic that we can come up with something by September. I've always told you it can happen tomorrow, it can happen in a year, but why are we rushing? Because Malampaya will run out in 2024," Cayetano said.

Cayetano maintained that any deal on the joint exploration talks will be in favor of the Philippines, which may be equal to the 60-40 Malampaya sharing or even better.

"Malampaya is structured on 60-40 but we're negotiating for better than that," he said.

Cayetano clarified that same as China, the Philippines also has an "indisputable claim" in the strategic waters.

But opting for a joint exploration talks instead of settling the territorial dispute first does not necessarily mean giving up the country's sovereign rights in the region, he said.

"We also have indisputable sovereignty over our territory which is defined by the Philippine Constitution, and we also have indisputable claims under the UNCLOS. But again, where do we take it from there?"

He said if the country is to wait for a decision on territory, "it might take forever."

"For us to come to some agreement, which is the same with the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, we have to put aside territorial and sovereign rights claims but not abandon them," Cayetano said. (PNA)


But the decision to complete the step to its logical conclusion, or to pursue a completely different tack, is purely the purview of the Philippine Senate. No President can make unilateral decisions on territorial integrity.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 10:35:39 AM
Responding to Chinese aggression

The financial deterrent created by the 4th option only works if China values PH-CN relations, and fears the financial retribution that the loss of that relationship brings. China's financial self-interest becomes integral to the country's defense.

However, if China actually decided to test Philippine resolve and violate one of the "red lines" laid out by the Department of Foreign Affairs, how would the Philippines respond?

The following scenario presents a plausible answer to this question. For purposes of this thought exercise, the following parameters will be assumed:

- This events takes place in the near future, with a Presidential administration that continues Duterte's approach

- Key build-build-build projects are either already underway or have already been completed, with calibrated percentage of these projects paid for by Chinese loans . . . in accordance with the "4th option"

- At a minimum all Chinese-operated petroleum service contracts, in Alegria (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3149.msg11072#msg11072) and Calamian (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2171.msg10971#msg10971) are producing oil and generating income for the Philippines. Others Service Contracts, within Philippine territory, operated by other countries (e.g., Sulu) may also be operational.

- All facets of the "4th option" are operational

The scenario lays out a sequence of events that would follow a Chinese violation of the Ayungin red line, and presents one way that Malacanang could use its retaliatory options.

Quote
1. For reasons unknown, China takes over the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal

2. The PH uses the PH-CN bilateral communication mechanism to protest the action, but to no avail.

3. The Philippines protests Chinese actions to the UN security council, but experiences the power of China's veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council

4. Philippines announces a moratorium on loan payments to Chinese banks in retaliation the red line violation, resulting in billions of dollars of losses. Malacanang declares that the moratorium stays in place until Chinese troops release AFP personnel on the Ayungin garrison, withdraws, and compensates the Philippines for material losses resulting from the invasion.

5. Philippines nationalizes all Chinese-held oil rigs and assets in Philippine territory to ensure their continued operation. All Chinese consultants and workers at these facilities are arrested and expelled.

6. The AFP calls up Affiliated Reserve Units (ARU) who are qualified to replace the Chinese personnel to ensure continued operation of the nationalized facilities.

7. DND organizes Task Force Ayungin which:

--> Deploys both of the Philippine Navy's South Korean frigates to Ayungin. Frigate #1 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=35.0) is tasked with a line-of-sight show of force function both to express displeasure at Chinese actions, and to re-assure AFP personnel on Ayungin that they have not been forgotten. Frigate #2 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2492.0) is tasked with air, surface, and sub-surface over watch duty

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/hhi.png)

--> One Tarlac class SSV is deployed to provide Underway Replenishment capability to the frigates, serve as a local command center, and to deploy amphibious assault assets that could be used for retaking Ayungin.

(https://scontent.fsnc1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/36176671_1937514472939706_5625321527466524672_n.jpg?_nc_cat=0&oh=8e616cc4bd3004278be6a25b5185c724&oe=5BE2FE7C)

--> Deploy AW159s on either the Frigates or the the SSV for ASW protection

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2-6.jpg)

--> Deploy FA-50s for Combat Air Patrol over Ayungin garrison

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/1.jpg)

8. The Philippines waits for the Chinese response.[/size]

In the scenario above China chose to impose a "new normal" upon the Philippines, and the Philippines decided to take stand, and even up the ante by resorting to the financial-retaliation options that the 4th option created. This leaves China with two courses of action:

Trade war (TW) (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12013#msg12013)
Military action (MA) (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12014#msg12014)

Both courses action will be discussed in their respective sub-sections, both of which could lead to the same positive outcome for the Philippines.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 10:36:32 AM
Trade War

With the Trade War option, China would penalize the Philippines economically for its standing up for itself, in an attempt to force the Philippines to accept a "new normal". This harks back to the days of the PH-CN banana war, but will be much far-reaching in its impact.

However, unlike the last time China flexed its economic muscles in 2012, 4th-option (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12000#msg12000) initiatives already in place by the time of this scenario would have already put the Philippines on war-footing as far as the economy was concerned. A trade war is essentially a war of economic attrition. The side that wins is the one that cannot out-wait the other side. The nation-building benefits of the build-build-build program, designed to strengthening regional economies across the country, should allow the country to mitigate the effects of a Chinese embargo.

Nevertheless, no country is immune from the effects of a trade war. Even the United State feels the sting (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3280.0) of its prevailing tensions with China. For this reason strategic engagement with the international community . . .

. . . focusing on economic self-interest rather than military alliances . . .

. . . to force China to alter its trajectory is key.

If China opts for a Trade War, the Philippines could respond with the following measures.

Quote
TW 1. To manage international perceptions of the loan default, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) works to assure international creditors that the default is solely targeted towards China and is not because of the country's ability to meet its debt obligations. The PH would also open discussions for replacing Chinese loans with Japanese, South Korean, and perhaps even US alternatives. Since Chinese actions have already invalidated the need for financial deterrence, the Philippines no longer needs to maintain the pretense.

TW 2. The DFA, theoretically, can work with other countries suffering from Chinese debt service — such as Pakistan — to coordinate demands for loan restructuring and similar activities that would have the side benefit of disrupting the Chinese usury-economy. (See Thailand initiative).

TW 3. The Department of Labor, working with the DFA, recalls OFWs in China and Hong Kong. They are directed to safe zones, for eventual repatriation to the Philippines. This is a defensive measure to avoid having Filipino citizens caught in an escalating conflict. This also has the added benefit of bringing the pain of Chinese actions down to the private Chinese individual. Imagine Hong Kong families without their Filipina house helpers :-)

To ease this transition, these OFWs would be given similar support (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3195.0) that workers brought back from Kuwait received during the PH-Kuwait row early in 2018.


What is the Repatriation Program?

Repatriation is bringing distressed workers back to the Philippines. This includes airport assistance, temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway House, and provision for their travel back to their provinces.

Non-kinetic, financial support from our allies, coupled with a coordinated attack on China's finances by way of other countries that face similar fiscal challenges with China, would amplify the effect of the Philippines' retaliation.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/burning_yuan.jpg)

In the end . . .

. . . Beijing would be forced to re-assess its Trade War calculations.

Financial self-interest would force China to back off from its aggressive actions in the WPS, and could -- theoretically -- even open discussions about its illegal occupied possessions in the WPS and South China Sea.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on August 05, 2018, 10:36:54 AM
Military action

Instead of a trade-based response to Philippine retaliation, China could take punitive military action AFP forces in the WPS, to include but not limited to the take over of additional Philippine garrisons and re-imposition of quarantine conditions in Scarborough Shoal.

Unlike the Philippines' predicament in 2016, economic activity generated in Step 2 should actually enable additional investments in defense with a corresponding increase in capability. But it remains unlikely that the Philippines would ever be able to match Chinese military power. While it remains important to pursue the AFP modernization program, the end-goal would not actually be to able to outpace Chinese defense spending.

If step 2 & 3 of the 4th option are done right, these would benefit the Philippines' defense posture beyond the capability to acquire, if not develop indigenously (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3412.15), more advanced weaponry. The economic benefits of the 4th option, CAN lead to improved standing with our allies, and enhance our value as a security partner.

For an example of the relationship between economic progress and the strength of defense ties, let us examine Japan.

From: By Kaijō Jieitai (海上自衛隊 / Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DDH-183.jpg)

The achilles heel of the 3rd option -- which hinges on the value of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty as a shield behind which the Philippines would cower and pretend to be free to do whatever it willed in its EEZ -- was the absence of assurance that the treaty would indeed be triggered if China responded with force. As stated earlier, the MDT doesn't actually guarantee an automatic response, is solely dependent on the discretion of the President of the United States, and beyond 90 days from the initiation of combat operations will require approval of the US Congress to continue.

US defense treaties with both Japan and the Philippines are worded similarly, and both lack a NATO-like automated response. HOWEVER, while public US policy towards Philippine claims to the WPS remains ambiguous, the US' stance with regard to Japan's claim is unequivocal. It is important to recognize this disparity for two principal reasons:

a) to avoid a mis-assessment of the value of the MDT and dispel the notion that the Philippines is "entitled" to US support

b) prompt discussions about why that disparity exists in the first place.

Unlike the Philippines that had been dependent on US aid and patronage for decades, opting to focus on internal security concerns at the expense of its external defense capability thus resulting in its current state of martial weakness, Japan emerged from the devastation of WWII as a true defense partner to the US. Whatever recognition the US gives to Japan's claims are commensurate to the value that Japan brings to the table and to its willingness to devote resources to defend those claims.

Despite having branded itself a "self-defense force", and going so far as to labeling its latest aircraft carriers as "helicopter destroyers", Japan has a thoroughly modern and potent force that is able to inter-operate with US forces. The country's investments in its defense allow it to contribute to the US' ballistic missile defense capability, care of its AEGIS-equipped destroyers and missile batteries, and adds to the inventory of stealth fighters that the alliance can call upon for its collective defense.

Japan earned the right to be called a TRUE defense partner. Hence was treated as such.

Japan rolls out first domestically built F-35 | IHS Jane's 360 (http://www.janes.com/article/71125/japan-rolls-out-first-domestically-built-f-35) - 05 June 2017
Quote
The conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A for the Japan Air Self-Defense force (JASDF) was unveiled at the site of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya in central Japan.

Japan is one of only two F-35 customers outside of the United States to have a FACO production facility, with Italy being the other. The JASDF is to receive 42 F-35As, of which 38 will be built by MHI at its FACO (the first four aircraft are being built by Lockheed Martin at its Fort Worth facility in Texas). Designated AX-5, work on this first Japanese-produced aircraft began in December 2015.

(http://www.janes.com/images/assets/125/71125/1704407_-_main.jpg)
As well as assembling F-35As, the FACO will also provide maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade services to F-35s based in the North Asia-Pacific region from about 2018. Source: Lockheed Martin

The United States can rightfully be worried about the Philippines being a liability. Of being dragged into a fight with China by a Manila government that expects the US to do the fighting for it.

Tokyo, in contrast, has demonstrated a willingness to face China alone -- in tangible terms, through palpable investments in defense. It's ability to mount such a strong defense is closely tied to the strength of the Japanese economy. While Japanese defense spending has traditionally been capped at 1% of GDP, an annual GDP in excess of US$4.9 trillion still marshalls a significant amount for defense. 

The US needs Japan as much as Japan needs the US. Arguably, for that reason, the US will not hesitate to openly commit itself to its treaty partner.

From a US perspective, what does the Philippines really bring to the table? (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=527.0) Why should more US servicemen and women risk their lives for yet another foreign entanglement?

The lack of overt support for Philippine claims in the WPS is NOT something the Filipino people should take as a "slight". It is simply a product of our geopolitical . . . insignificance. It is . . . just what it is. Progress with the 4th option should change that.

Help from our traditional allies will come AFTER the Philippines actually demonstrates its ability to look after its own interests. Integral to that demonstration is a mature, calculated, policy of engagement of China. We need to show that we can think for ourselves, and that we will not mindlessly draw our allies into a Chinese quagmire.

For that reason, successful pursuit of the 4th option, is actually a precondition to the viability of the 3rd option which may -- or may not -- still be required when the time comes. This is the critical piece of the Duterte-strategy -- the 4th / Kobayashi Maru option -- that the likes of Justice Antonio Carpio and other pro-opposition pundits fail, or refuse, to acknowledge.

4th option --> Economic growth --> More money for modernization

The Philippines, as a nation, needs to come to grips with the fact that if it is to mount an effective defense against China AND entice its allies to commit to its cause, it needs to spend on defense. But to be able to spend on defense, it needs a whole-nation effort to mobilize the entire country to shift its economic engine into high-gear.

The AFP modernization program has a prominent line-item in the National Budget. But the funds actually applied to the modernization acquisitions comes from the AFP Modernization Trust Fund (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2878.0), which can draw additional funding other sources -- to include funds designed by the Office of the President.

One example of the use of Executive power to benefit the AFPMTF was the use of Malampaya (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2875.0) proceeds to fund the acquisition of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=106.msg11700#msg11700), at least one of the Mk.I Multi-Purpose Assault Craft (MPAC), and a rehabilitated S-76 helicopter. While the controversy surrounding pork-barrel funds put a stop to the fund's use during the Aquino administration. It is not inconceivable that the combined income from Malampaya, Alegria, and potentially Calamian oil fields could applied to the AFPMTF again in this administration as part of "4th option" initiatives.

Sail-by of the Malampaya Oil Field in 2013. Photo c/o of the Philippine Navy

(http://adroth.ph/afpmodern/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/382906_138239852956142_100003103846189_180784_1577802219_n.jpg)

In its current incarnation, the AFP modernization program is divided into three "horizons", curated by the various planning staff (i.e., J5, G5, N5, A5). The timelines each horizon are explained in the following DND graphic. Horizon 1 was the result of the work of DND-AFP personnel working during the Arroyo and Aquino administrations, and was completed at the start of the current administration. Duterte signed off on the P300 billion acquisition list for Horizon 2 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=868.msg11467#msg11467) on June 20, 2018.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/revised_mod_plan.jpg)

The sooner 4th option activities bear fruit, the sooner the AFP Modernization Program can shift into high gear and kick-start the following already-announced projects:

- PN submarine program (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1125.msg11468#msg11468)
- Multi-Role Fighters (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=207.0)
- Long-Range Patrol Aircraft (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=266.0)
- Surface-to-surface missiles (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=957.0)

The faster the modernization program gains traction, the greater the likelihood that the Philippines' allies will view it the way it does Japan: As a country that is a full-partner in defense.

Success of 4th-option funded efforts to build a credible defense posture would embolden the United States, and other allies, to OFFICIALLY and PUBLICLY recognize Philippine claims -- on par with how it supports Japan. Duterte's 4th option, therefore, would make Carpio's preferred 3rd option viable.

Circling back to the scenario laid out here:

Quote
MA 1. In the wake of overt Chinese military action, the Philippines invokes the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US

MA 2. The United States responds with accelerated Freedom of Navigation Operations in the WPS, delivery of logistical support items to allow the AFP sustain military operations in WPS

MA 3. Finally . . . and most importantly . . . the United States OFFICIALLY and PUBLICLY declares that is recognizes the KIG as part of Philippine territory, and that any and all military action that violates Philippine sovereignty would be treated as an attack on the United States itself and would merit a military response . . . forthwith.

Regardless of whether or not China resorts to a trade war or military action, with the 4th option the Philippines will be able to mount an independent response, that will benefit from international support, but will not require international participation as a pre-condition for any action in the first place.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 13, 2018, 05:31:59 AM
This will probably be the first in a series of posts.  This will take some time.  I credit Sir Adroth on the sheer scale and comprehensiveness of the thesis that he has submitted before the group.  It's thoroughness mandates that an equally comprehensive critique is in order.  And to be honest, given my current busy work schedule, I am having trouble finding time to do this in one sitting.  And so the succeeding posts will come as they will, piece by piece, and will take segments of Sir Adroth's thesis to offer commentary and critique.  My thoughts are not intended to either support nor criticize the thesis before us.  But rather offer different analysis, points of view, and outlooks which may add to and/or provide alternative viewpoints to the thesis.

Most importantly, this is intended to stimulate discussion and dialogue, both here in the mother forum, as well as the Facebook honeypot.  With any luck, I hope that it will also further discussion in the larger Philippine defense community.

-- Dr. D.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 13, 2018, 06:37:02 AM
United States

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-7.jpg)

The US was in no shape to mount a conventional war. The two wars-without-end in Iraq (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3473.0) and Afghanistan had left the US electorate with little appetite for yet another armed conflict. While the Global War on Terror continues even today, and has even expanded to Africa, these focus on counter-insurgency campaigns -- mounted by special operations forces -- designed to bolster the effectiveness of the armed forces of partner countries. These were not high-profile operations on the scale of either Gulf Wars I or II. In contrast, any direct conflict with China would be.

Domestic challenges associated with sequestration (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2754.0) and the 2008 financial crisis arguably gave additional reason to pause and reconsider the wisdom of committing resources for war. Manifestations of the effect of these constraints on US military spending range from the USAF crisis (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1198.0) with its fighter readiness, to the cancellation (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3666.0) or reduction (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=319.msg8218#msg8218) of big-ticket acquisitions.

Arguably both resulted in an anemic “Pivot to Asia (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3474.0)” that left China emboldened.

The timidity of the US -- and NATO -- response to Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3484.0), as well as successful nullification of the UN Security Council in the matter of the Syrian Civil War (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3485.0) in 2012 -- by way of a joint Russia-China veto, proved to Beijing that it would be able to challenge international order with little consequence to itself.

While the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States remains relevant, proper acknowledgement of the fact that the MDT does not give the Philippines license to do whatever it wants -- and then expect the US defend it blindly -- is essential to any rational geopolitical calculation.

Any discussion of the role of the United States in all of this is by its very nature going to be an exceedingly complex discussion.  It is interwoven with issues not just germane to the current existing relationship between the Philippines and the United States, but also takes into account the historic relationship between the two countries, geopolitics, American domestic issues, and a bunch of other things.  The current state of the United States is also a major factor as the policies of its current administration have been arguably in flux.

Sir Adroth's statement that the American populace has no stomach for involving itself in another major war is largely accurate.  And at the very least this has been true for the last decade, and stem largely from the stalemate in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the premature declaration of victory of the George W. Bush administration in both theaters even though combat troops remain on the ground to this very day.  That stalemate is believed to be one of the contributing factors to Barack Obama's election in 2009 when American voters made it clear that it wanted American involvement in foreign wars scaled back and more emphasis on repairing a weakened economy.

The Obama administration focused its policies more toward diplomacy and repairing damaged relationships with foreign partners.  When it needed to get involved militarily, it tried as much as possible to minimize the involvement of actual troops and personnel, and tended to focus more on drone strikes.  What few troops were needed were kept to a minimal level, such as the special forces raid into Pakistan to take out Osama bin Laden in 2011.

That more pacifist slant also reflected itself in the Asia pivot which took place to the latter half of Obama's term.  The Obama administration should be credited with recognizing that the rise of China represented a bigger threat, and the necessity of reallocating US forces to put a deterrent force in the region.  But that "rebalance" has been hampered by internal budget battles between the Obama administration and the Republican-controlled Congress which led to the "sequester" which compromised by denying budget funds across the board to all programs, hitting defense just as hard as any other program.  As a result, there weren't adequate defense assets (particularly naval assets) which could be rebalanced.  Naval assets slowly frittered away due to attrition.  Those remaining naval assets were stretched thin amongst several crisis areas (Syria, the Black Sea, the Middle East, etc.).  And what funds were available were being poured into high-value programs of dubious use (such as the LCS program).

But there is the other "elephant in the room" in Asia:  North Korea.

The United States, under the Obama administration, recognized North Korea as the biggest threat, given its nuclear ambitions, and concerns that it might be one of the few nations on the planet that might not hesitate to use such weapons.  Not to mention that its sizeable land army combine with its large artillery corps could quickly pour millions of troops over the DMZ to overrun South Korea, along with the 30,000 US troops stationed there.  Not to mention that a nuclear armed North Korea could cause South Korea and Japan to quickly follow suit and develop their own nuclear arsenals, thereby touching off a major regional arms race.

With diplomacy as the option of first resort, China has been seen as the key to getting North Korea to stand down.  China is North Korea's sole ally and biggest trading partner, and is believed to exercise influence over the Kim regime.

As such, a lot of the diplomatic maneuvering in the Korean crisis has consisted of the United States and other nations encouraging China to lean on North Korea.  This was true of the Obama administration, and the first year of the Trump administration with Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.  However part of engaging China to help out with North Korea has involved not ruffling China's feathers to try to get its cooperation.

Forcing the issue in the South China Sea has been seen as one of those things that might ruffle Beijing's feathers.

And so the lack of aggressive US action in the South China Sea might be attributable to that issue taking a back seat to the more urgent issues involving North Korea.  At best, US action has been seen as piecemeal, mainly consisting of Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), with supposed "red lines" drawn at Scarborough Shoal.  However, there was not direct attempt to stop the island reclamation projects at 7 Spratlys Islands reefs and shoals in clear violation of international law.  While there is no evidence to indicate that such was the case, the US-brokered agreement over the April 2011 Scarborough Shoal incident would be consistent with an attempt to defuse the situation and not ruffle Beijing's feathers.

With Mike Pompeo now in charge at the State Department, it's hard to say if the prior use China to lean on North Korea policy is still in place.  Trump and Kim Jong Il did meet in Singapore and claim to have brokered an agreement to curtail North Korea's nuclear program (without needing the Chinese as an intermediary).  However, recent intelligence reports have indicated that North Korea has been ramping up, rather than winding down, its nuclear program.

In any case, with the Department of Defense now under Jim Mattis, we have seen an increase in tempo of FONOPs, with increased military-like activity taking place with the 12 nautical mile zones claimed by Beijing.  They also publicly disinvited China from the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercises, citing Chinese activities in the South China Sea.  But only time will tell where things will go from here.

Add to this an air of unpredictability which comes with the man occupying the Oval Office, Donald J. Trump.  He has publicly criticized allied nations, to the point that many of them have questioned whether the United States would own up to its alliance and treaty obligations so long as Trump is president.  At the same time, Trump has cozied up to nations that have been traditional adversaries of the US, such as Russia.  And there are lingering suspicions that Russia may have had direct involvement in the election of Trump as president in 2016.  Likewise, there have also been reports that members of Trump's family have used their influence in government to facilitate business dealings in China and/or with the Chinese government.

Despite all this, Trump has proven a mixed bag when it comes to getting legislation in his program passed.  Despite his party having majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, little of his legislative agenda has been pushed through, apart from his tax reform program.  That program, which created billions of dollars in tax cuts directed at upper income individuals and corporations, is projected to add trillions to an already large national debt according to an independent US Congressional study.  And as such, it becomes questionable whether the funding would be there for important big ticket defense initiatives such as the expansion of the US Navy to 355 ships, Coast Guard modernization, and border security.   

Trump also seems to have a very different way of doing things.  Some believe that his approach is more bilateral in nature, preferring to deal one-on-one rather than work in coalitions as his predecessor did.  His thinking also tends to be more transactional, a reflection of his business background.

How this bodes for the Philippines......it's hard to say, given Trump's penchant for unpredictability and (from his Twitter posts) volatility.  He seems to get along well with President Duterte (much in the same way that he seems to get along with Kim Jong Il, Vladamir Putin, and Recep Erdogan), and have a common foe in terrorism.  But Trump's frequent clashes with close traditional allies have caused some to wonder whether the US could ever again be trusted to keep its word.

And then there's the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States, and all the historical complications that come with it.  But I leave that for the section on the MDT.

Addenda:  If there is a criticism to be leveled at the Obama administration, it is that it placed too much faith in the "rule-based approach" to the international order.  It idealistically believed that everyone followed the rules, and that diplomacy and subtle nudges with sanctions would get nations to come back into the fold.

Clearly that was not the case with Russia in the Crimea, nor was it the case with China and its artificial islands.  Those, and a few nations, reverted back to the "might makes right" way of doing business, which the "rules-based approach" proved inadequate to deal with.  Whether or not a "carrot-stick" approach would have worked, it's hard to say given the complexities of the situation, and how a situation in one part of the world gets interwoven with crises elsewhere.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 13, 2018, 07:02:52 AM
Japan

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2-4.jpg)

Japan remains the US’ strongest ally in the region, and remains the Philippines’ top lender. While it has consistently flexed its muscles in response to Chinese aggression in the Senkaku islands (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3277.0), its engagements in the South China Sea remain focused on beefing up regional coast guards (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2975.0).

But even on the matter of Coast Guard strength, China's shipbuilding spree has eclipsed the Japanese Coast Guard, both in terms of number and size of vessels. Therefore a favorable repeat of a Japanese salvage operation in waters that China claimed to be its own, in 2002 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3612.0), is no longer a certainty. By 2015, China had wrestled the title "largest coast guard cutter" from Japan, when it commissioned the 12,000-ton cutter designated CGC 2901 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3611.0).

With Japan, the big "elephant in the room" has always been its postwar Constitution which renounces war as an instrument of foreign policy.  While it allows for self-defense, it has been interpreted such that Japanese governments steer clear of anything such as foreign deployments and the production of war and defense materials above and beyond what is strictly needed for Japan's defense requirements.

In comes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.  Conservative, a man who believes in Japan's power.  He has no qualms about controversial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine which house the remains of convicted Class A war criminals (thereby reopening old wounds in China and Japan).  He would like to throw off those pacifist constitutional provisions.  He knows that the dispute with China in the Senkakus is a powder keg ready to go off.  He knows that China is an emerging power with a fleet and air force that can take down Japan.  He also knows that exporting defense materials would be a big boost to the Japanese economy.

Except that Japanese public polling runs 2 to 1 in favor of remaining pacifist.

In 2016, Abe's party handily won the elections in the upper house of the Diet (Japan's parliament).  However, with polling running in favor of continued pacifism, Abe publicly admitted that he had to back away from scrapping pacifist constitutional provisions.  Politically, he had no choice.  Even though his party controlled both the Upper and Lower Houses, forcing such a measure would have meant either parliamentary defeat, or a revolt by his own party because his MPs constituents wouldn't have stood for such a change.

However, Japan still had a problem.  With China gaining tighter control over the South China Sea, in meant that the Chinese could place a vice-grip on Japan anytime it wanted.  Japan is highly dependent on Middle Eastern oil.  And that oil flow through the volatile sea lanes of the South China Sea.

If lethal aid, such as warships and warplanes was constitutionally unacceptable, then nonlethal aid, in the form of coast guard vessels was possible.  And so the Japanese have bent the rules by aiding not just the Philippines, but also Malaysia and Vietnam.  At the same time, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force has gone on goodwill trips and port calls in the Southeast Asia region, using the opportunity to help train up regional coast guards and navies.  If the JMSDF can't legally protect the sea lanes itself, then it could certainly help regional partners do so in cooperation with them.

Very quietly, both the Duterte administration, and under his predecessor President Aquino, the Philippines has engaged Japan in terms of building patrol capabilities, as well as infrastructure.

Japan has proven to be a willing partner.  However, that partnership comes with restraints.  And only time will tell if eventually those restrictions will be loosened.  A lot of that is dependent not on Japanese or Philippine policy makers, but rather on the temperament and values of the Japanese voting public.  It is merely for government officials in both countries to maximize the relationship to the extent that they can. 
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 13, 2018, 07:17:09 AM
ASEAN

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/4.png)

ASEAN was not designed effectively engage China in a territorial dispute. First of all, it is not actually a military alliance the way NATO, or even the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), was. By definition, it is an economic and socio-economic alliance.

From: http://asean.org/asean/about-asean/overview/

< Edited >

AIMS AND PURPOSES

As set out in the ASEAN Declaration, the aims and purposes of ASEAN are:

To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations;

To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;

< Edited >


It actually lacks any explicit obligation to defend associate member states. If anything, it emphasizes non-interference in each other’s affairs.

Furthermore, it is an association that relies on consensus to accomplish anything.

From: http://asean.org/storage/2012/05/The-ASEAN-Charter-21-th-Reprint-Amended-17-05-2017-1.pdf

CHAPTER VII
DECISION-MAKING

ARTICLE 20
CONSULTATION AND CONSENSUS

1. As a basic principle, decision-making in ASEAN shall be based on consultation and consensus.

2. Where consensus cannot be achieved, the ASEAN Summit may decide how a specific decision can be made.

3. Nothing in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article shall affect the mode of decision-making as contained in the relevant ASEAN legal instruments.

4. In the case of a serious breach of the Charter or non-compliance, the matter shall be referred to the ASEAN Summit for decision.


This makes ASEAN relatively easy for China to neutralize and assure that it does not become a venue for diplomatic opposition to its ambitions. While much has been said about Duterte’s refusal to use ASEAN as a venue for protesting Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea, ASEAN had already been defanged years earlier when Cambodia (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3542.0) actively blocked any attempt association statements that would be unfavorable to China. First in 2012, then again in 2016. Adding further insult to injury, China openly thanked Cambodia for taking its side at ASEAN.

As pointed out, ASEAN is hardly a cohesive alliance or even a coalition.  It runs purely be consensus.  And so one has to be careful about how you interpret ASEAN pronouncements.  At times, it will put out a water-down statement that merely achieves a weak consensus statement without substance only for the sake of saying that they achieved consensus on "something".  When in reality it is nothing at all.

As Sir Adroth pointed out, ASEAN got neutered long before Duterte appeared on the scene, when Cambodia, who was the ASEAN chair in 2012, killed an ASEAN communique which loudly criticized China's island reclamation activities.  This despite the Philippines and Vietnam openly pushing and lobbying for a strong statement.  By 2016, with the Philippines now under Duterte looking to constructively engage with China, Vietnam was left isolated in trying to push for strong action against China.  Vietnam is reportedly less than please with the Philippines.  Whereas before 2016, Vietnam felt that it found a partner in the Philippines is cooperatively pushing to stop Chinese expansion, afterward, Vietnam had felt that the Philippines had thrown it under a bus.  Reportedly, Vietnam planned to quickly file its own case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, using the July 2016 PCA ruling in the case of the Philippines vs. the People's Republic of China as the precedent.  The Philippines backing away from the ruling effectively pulled the rug out from under Vietnam.

Even without the Philippines leaning one way or the other, pro-China ASEAN members, such as Cambodia and Laos are more than enough to prevent any form of consensus in ASEAN over the South China Sea disputes for the foreseeable future.

The one thing to watch for in ASEAN at this point is development of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.  Recent reports indicate that an initial draft has been developed.  Some reports indicate that the draft is very favorable toward China and, despite the intention and purpose of the Code of Conduct, non-binding.  Stay tuned.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 13, 2018, 07:56:12 AM
Evaluating the "3rd option": UNCLOS

The cold hard fact about the UNCLOS ruling is that it did not actually grant the Philippines anything. All it did was nullify the 9-dashed line for the benefit of the world at large.

PCA Case No. 2013-19

In the Matter of the South China Sea Arbitration before the Aribitral Tribunal Constituted Under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea
Between the Republic of the Philippines and the People's Republic of China

https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Award.pdf

From page 84 of the document

Quote
5. Exceptions and Limitations to Jurisdiction

161. Finally, the Tribunal examined the subject matter limitations to its jurisdiction set out in Articles 297 and 298 of the Convention. Article 297 automatically limits the jurisdiction a tribunal may exercise over disputes concerning marine scientific research or the living resources of the exclusive economic zone. Article 298 provides for further exceptions from compulsory settlement that a State may activate by declaration for disputes concerning (a) sea boundary delimitations, (b) historic bays and titles, (c) law enforcement activities, and (d) military activities. By declaration on 25 August 2006, China activated all of these exceptions.

The key bit to understand the text above is Article 298, which states

http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf

Quote
Article 298

Optional exceptions to applicability of section 2

1. When signing, ratifying or acceding to this Convention or at any time thereafter, a State may, without prejudice to the obligations arising under section 1, declare in writing that it does not accept any one or more of the procedures provided for in section 2 with respect to one or more of the following categories of disputes:

(a) (i) disputes concerning the interpretation or application of articles 15, 74 and 83 relating to sea boundary delimitations, or those involving historic bays or titles,
provided that a State having made such a declaration shall, when such a dispute arises subsequent to the entry into force of this Convention and where no agreement
within a reasonable period of time is reached in negotiations between the parties, at the request of any party to the dispute, accept submission of the matter to conciliation under Annex V, section 2; and provided further that any dispute that necessarily involves the concurrent consideration of any unsettled dispute concerning sovereignty or other rights over continental or insular land territory shall be excluded from such submission;

(ii) after the conciliation commission has presented its report, which shall state the reasons on which it is based, the parties shall negotiate an agreement on the basis of that report; if these negotiations do not result in an agreement, the parties shall, by mutual consent, submit the question to one of the procedures provided for in section 2, unless the parties otherwise agree;

(iii) this subparagraph does not apply to any sea boundary dispute finally settled by an arrangement between the parties, or to any such dispute which is to be settled in accordance with a bilateral or multilateral agreement binding upon those parties;

(b) disputes concerning military activities, including military activities by government vessels and aircraft engaged in non-commercial service, and disputes concerning law
enforcement activities in regard to the exercise of sovereign rights or jurisdiction excluded from the jurisdiction of a court or tribunal under article 297, paragraph 2 or 3;

(c) disputes in respect of which the Security Council of the United Nations is exercising the functions assigned to it by the Charter of the United Nations, unless the Security Council decides to remove the matter from its agenda or calls upon the parties to settle it by the means provided for in this Convention.

2. A State Party which has made a declaration under paragraph 1 may at any time withdraw it, or agree to submit a dispute excluded by such declaration to any procedure specified in this Convention.

3. A State Party which has made a declaration under paragraph 1 shall not be entitled to submit any dispute falling within the excepted category of disputes to any procedure in this Convention as against another State Party, without the consent of that party.

4. If one of the States Parties has made a declaration under paragraph 1(a), any other State Party may submit any dispute falling within an excepted category against the declarant party to the procedure specified in such declaration.

5. A new declaration, or the withdrawal of a declaration, does not in any way affect proceedings pending before a court or tribunal in accordance with this article, unless the parties otherwise agree.

6. Declarations and notices of withdrawal of declarations under this article shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to the States Parties.

There are a number of things that needed to be pointed out about UNCLOS and the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the case of the Republic of the Philippines vs. the People's Republic of China.

First of all, this was a case that the lawyers on the Philippine side designed to win.  As such, to ensure victory, it needed to limit the scope to parameters that could be winnable.  And so the case was never designed to affirm Philippine sovereignty over certain features.......that was a difficult case to prove and easier to disprove.  Add to this the fact that the PCA already made it clear that it did not have jurisdiction over sovereignty, but rather could resolve issues tied to UNCLOS.  What was a winnable case was if they could disprove the legality of China's "Nine Dash Line".  Ultimately, that was what happened, as the "Nine Dash Line" according to the Tribunal had no basis whatsoever under international law.  It also resolved other issues regarding the status of certain features, which has an effect on whether such features would be entitled to 200 nautical mile EEZs in addition to 12 nautical mile territorial seas.  Had any of the features, such as Pagasa Island and Itu Aba been granted "island" status, it would have complicated the issue by causing overlapping EEZs which would have to be settle separately.

As such, as pointed out in the thesis, the PCA decision succeeded in so far as disallowing any claim by China based on its "Nine Dash Line", or any claim based on its claimed "historical basis", and upholding the supremacy of international law.  However, the implied message was also "just because the feature is in your EEZ, does not automatically entitle you to it."  As such, the disputed features within the Philippines' EEZ may or may not belong to the Philippines.  It's just that the Permanent Court of Arbitration did not rule on it, nor did it have the jurisdiction to do so.

So he has the authority to make such a ruling?  To be honest, no one really knows.

Which leads to the second issue........UNCLOS itself, and its lack of an enforcement mechanism.

If anything, a lot of what the UN gets done is done in such a way that if ever there's a dispute, or something that needs to be resolved, it gets brought before the Security Council, with its 10 rotating members and 5 permanent members.

But if the Security Council has an "Achilles heel" its the possibility that the dispute involves one of its Permanent Members (the US, UK, France, Russia, and China), each of which has veto power and can kill a Security Council resolution with a single "no" vote.  Critics of the UN have cited this as the inherent weakness in the UN organization.

We have to remember that the concept of 5 permanent members is born out of the ghost of the UNs predecessor, the League of Nations.  While born of the great idea to prevent war by talking it out in a community of nations, the League lacked the power to force compliance.  And while the League called out nations such as Japan (for aggression in Manchuria) and Italy (for its invasion of Ethiopia), because it lacked the force to enforce, offenders simply thumbed its nose at the League, or in Japan's case, walked out altogether.

The whole idea of 5 permanent members is that the UN could round up the 5 biggest thugs it can find and "push" offending nations into complying and keeping order.  And to some extent it has worked in keeping relatively peace (or at least not outright world war) for over 70 years.

It still doesn't solve the problem:  what if the offender is a permanent member?

Add to that the fact that the biggest proponent in the development of UNCLOS, the United States, has not yet ratified the treaty.

US objections to the treaty have stemmed from provisions about undersea mining and involvement in international bodies and organizations which are seen to diminish US sovereignty in certain areas.  And while some of those issues have been addressed, it has not been enough to get through the ratification process.

Under the US Constitution, ratification of any treaty requires the vote of 2/3 of the US Senate.  At present, that requires 67 votes.  Each time the subject of ratification has come out, at least 34 senators have announced their attention to vote "no" which would kill the treaty.  The Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations have all pushed for UNCLOS ratification.  Most recently in 2012.  However, enough senators came out against ratification that it had to be pulled back from a pending vote.  Had the vote gone through and had been defeated, the treaty can't be brought back again for ratification.

Ironically, the 2016 PCA ruling may have pushed the US even further from ratification.  The ruling reaffirmed the concept that what we would view as islands may really be high-tide features because they are unable to sustain human habitation.  This calls into question three US Pacific possessions:  Howland Island (the famed island where Amelia Earhart was supposed to land in her failed round-the-world trip), Baker Island, and Kingman Reef.  The US claims 200 nautical mile EEZ around all its possessions and under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have turned them into marine sanctuaries.  However, the 2016 PCA ruling calls into question the legality of the EEZs around Howland, Baker, and Kingman Reef.  And the last thing anyone wants to see are Chinese fishing trawlers snooping around there.

In any case, although the US follows the spirit of UNCLOS in following its rules, it lacks the moral authority to force others, like China to comply, simply because it hasn't ratified the treaty.

Some have criticized UNCLOS because it can't be enforced.

However, there is the flip side.......we are having this discussion because UNCLOS exists.

UNCLOS codifies the rules by which the maritime entitlements of all nations are ensured of a 12 nautical mile territorial sea and a 200 nautical mile EEZ.  It is designed to create a fair framework so that all maritime nations are ensure of their rights.

Without UNCLOS, by what are we allowed to claim a 12 nautical mile territorial sea and 200 nautical mile EEZ?  Would we even be having this discussion if UNCLOS didn't exist?  Would the Chinese have simply walked right in and taken it.......end of discussion?  Would we only have the force of our arms to stop the Chinese from claiming our front yard?
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 14, 2018, 12:51:11 PM
Evaluating the "3rd option": MDT

A strategy that relies on the MDT is a line of thinking with direct lineage to the ill-fated pre-World War II “War Plan Orange (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3495.0)” that was supposed to have sent the US Pacific fleet across the Pacific to repulse an Imperial Japanese attack. As USAFEE forces that retreated to Bataan as part of the plan discovered -- the hard way in April 9, 1942 (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3279.0) -- the mere threat of retaliation did not prevent invasion, and the promise of reinforcement could be hampered by other more-pressing concerns. Unfortunately for the defenders of Bataan, the attack on Pearl Harbor had put the United States on the defensive and the security of the continental US had become paramount. They had become expendable.

In addition to keeping the Bataan experience in mind, when weighing the value of the MDT as shield, one must also be mindful of the wording of the treaty and the mechanics for enforcement.

Article 4 and 5 of the US-PH treaty states

ARTICLE IV

Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

ARTICLE V

For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.

Arguably, faith in the MDT’s use as a shield against China emanates from these two provisions in the treaty. Particularly in the segments that indicate that an attack on the “armed forces, vessels or aircraft” of either party will trigger the MDT.

But how does this treaty ACTUALLY compare with other mutual defense agreements that the US has with its other allies and how is it enforced?

Treaty that created NATO (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11994#msg11994)
Treaty between US and Japan (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11995#msg11995)

While the JP-US and PH-US mutual defense treaties both lack the automated response provision of the NATO treaty, the US has categorically declared that they recognize Japan’s claims to the Senkakus. The same cannot be said for the KIG.

The discretionary nature of MDT activation, and the lack of overt commitment to defense of the KIG -- both of which represented the status quo long before the current administration came to office -- should give anyone pause when opting to rely on the MDT as a shield against Chinese aggression.

If understanding the US and its policies is exceedingly complex, then understanding the relationship between the Philippines and the United States in terms of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty takes complexity to a whole new level.  If one were to try to simplify a description of this relationship, one might say that it is the sum total of the ups, downs, twists, and turns of the relationship between the two nations since the US granted full sovereignty to the Philippines on July 4, 1946..........and a whole lot of ambiguity.

A lot of that relationship was ingrained in the long time presence of American forces on Philippine soil vis-a-vis the large bases at Clark and Subic Bay, as well as several smaller bases.  As such, throughout much of that period, the Americans either provided excess defense articles, or in some cases subsidized Philippine military operations, as the Americans needed what it could get to help protect its prized bases in the country.  The Philippines had the personnel, but the Americans had the equipment.

However, beneath the surface, there was a constant cajoling and nagging on the part of the Americans to get the Philippines to do its part to defend itself.  A lot of it can be seen in the following 1972 US General Accounting Office report which outlined how a lot of the funding being sent to the Philippines that was supposed to be used to acquire newer and modern military equipment was being used instead to fund the AFPs normal day-to-day operations.  And that 1972 report essentially reiterated the same findings of an earlier 1966 report (http://archive.gao.gov/f0302/096402.pdf).

Thus, the dependency began.  The thinking on the part of Philippine decision makers was, "Why worry about our own defense when Tio Samuel can do it for us."  And judging by the GAO report, the Americans knew it, and were exasperated about it.  But if anything, the Philippines had the Americans by the cajones, and the Americans, if they wanted to maintain the strategic balance in Southeast Asia, could do little but indulge it.

But with the closure of the American bases in 1992, everything had changed.  The world had changed (the Cold War was over).  And the relationship had changed.  The child (the Philippines) decided it was better off on its own.  And the parent (the United States) had realized that it could no longer count on the unconditional cooperation of the child.

But what hadn't changed was the expectation of the child for the freebees and gifts and toys that it had been getting.  It was like the child gave the parent "the finger", but still expected to be spoiled.  It is a reflection of the poor understanding by the child of what the relationship with the parent was all about.  The US had done things that it didn't necessarily do for its other allies.  The US doesn't hand out free equipment to its allies.  The equipment may be dated, but few if any get freebees as the Philippines once did.  Even NATO allies have to pay for American equipment and weapons just like any other customer (with the exception of Iceland, which has no military, but its strategic position in the center of the Atlantic makes it prime real estate).  To this day, that "the Americans will take care of us" attitude still persists.  And while some have recognized the need for the Philippines to defend itself, that dependency has hampered the development of the AFP just as much as any of a number of other factors.

Meanwhile, on the American side, the Americans were still mindful of Philippine attitudes toward its own defense.  Then, as now, they've questioned the Philippines' reliability as an ally, and whether the Philippines would ever be worth the effort.  At the same time, American budgets have increasingly gotten tighter and tighter.  There's no longer the money to be thrown around as their federal budget has had an increasing number of obligations with ever shrinking revenues.  As such, giving dole outs to countries, such as the Philippines, which demonstrably have shown the ability to handle its own affairs, has become politically untenable in the United States as voters/taxpayers have questioned why their taxes should go to such places........and they do let their congressional representatives know about their objections.  And so "the good stuff" continues to go to countries who already shell out billions to buy American equipment and can demonstrate a commitment to their own defense (such as Israel), while countries that insist on playing the role of the needy girlfriend have been left out in the cold.

And then there's the MDT itself.

If anything, the terms of the MDT are ambiguous.

First of all, Article V of the treaty refers to an "an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific."

In terms of the Philippines, "metropolitan territory" has been understood to mean those borders of the Republic of the Philippines that were in place at the time the Philippines gained sovereignty from the United States on July 4, 1946.......more or less.  I say "more or less" because since then, those borders have been adjusted to conform with international law, specifically UNCLOS.  These are more or less the borders that the United States recognizes, and these are the borders that are covered under the MDT.

However, that leaves the Kalayaan Island Group and Scarborough Shoal in a gray area.  While the Philippines claims these territories, the United States does not officially recognize Philippine sovereignty over these areas.  The official US policy on the territorial disputes is that it recognizes no one's claim in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, and that the disputes should be resolved peacefully.  As such, the MDT does not apply to the KIG and Scarborough Shoal.

However, the Philippines, rather astutely, has gotten around that by stationing troops in the KIG.  It has also created a makeshift outpost at Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal by stationing the derelict WW2-vintage transport BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal.  By virtue of the clause "n its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific", the Philippines has placed indirect MDT coverage over these areas, since an attack on the troops or the ship would in theory trigger the treaty.

The problem, thus, becomes the other ambiguity.......what response would be triggered? 

Article IV of the treaty states:  "Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security. "

But the language is very vague in terms of what such a response would be.

It is presumed that in the event of an armed attack on the Philippines, an American president would invoke the 1973 War Powers Act.  Under the terms of the Act, the US President in his or her capacity as commander in chief of the armed forces can act to commit US forces in the event of an emergency.  The President would have 48 hours to inform the US Congress, and US forces can remain in place for up to 60 days, beyond which Congressional approval would be required.

However, the MDT provides no guarantees of such action.  And the US has never made any statement guaranteeing such action.

There may be some historical context.  In the past, the US has been known to implement a policy of "strategic ambiguity".  Such policies are implemented to keep foe AND friend in check, and preventing both sides from taking actions to escalate a conflict or dispute.  The most notable example of this is US policy toward Taiwan.  On the one hand, statements that the US was committed to Taiwan's defense was intended to deter mainland China from invading the island.  However, the US was deliberately ambiguous as to what it would do to defend Taiwan, in order to prevent Taiwan from making aggressive moves which would escalate the China-Taiwan dispute, such as an outright declaration of Taiwanese independence which would almost certainly lead to war.

The same "strategic ambiguity" may be in play in terms of the MDT.

Some of this may be the result of past moves on the part of the Philippines.  The one notable example was moves in the late 1960s/early 1970s to invade Sabah.  The thinking by Philippine decision makers was that they would give it a go, and if it went to hell, or Malaysia invoked its Five Power Defense Arrangement with Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, it would go running to the Americans and invoke the MDT.

Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, put the kibosh on that, stating that the MDT was purely a defensive measure.  If the Philippines started something, it was on its own.

That line of thinking has been kept in place for the better part of 40 years.  And has affected how the South China Sea disputes have been dealt with.  The Americans are well aware that there is a temptation with Philippine decision makers to try to provoke some kind of confrontation such that the US could get dragged in vis-a-vis the MDT.  All in the hope that the Americans would do the Philippines' dirty work for it.

It does call to mind an anecdote that was relayed in the old Timawa forum.  Some admirals from the US Pacific Fleet came to Manila for a visit.  The local politicians were gleeful that they were there, saying that the Americans would fight the Chinese for them.  To which the admirals replied that if the Philippines would take their defense seriously and invest more in their defense, then they would be happy to help.  But if they expected the Americans to do the fighting for them, then they would be on their own.

It's like the bitter complaints once attributed to the GIs of the US 3rd Army during WW2, whose famed commander, Gen. George S. Patton, was referred to as "Old Blood and Guts".  To which the GIs replied, "Yeah, our blood.....his guts."

If the MDT has had any positive effect, it's that the Chinese haven't taken the old Dirty Harry challenge, and tested whether or not they feel lucky.  So far, they haven't taken any overt action, such as attacking the garrison on the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal.  The Chinese haven't quite been willing to try to figure out for themselves exactly what the US' MDT response would be.  However, they are still mindful of what the MDT is, and how they can play the MDT.  Actions such as blockading Ayungin Shoal, as well as shadowing the BRP Laguna during its KIG resupply runs in 2017, may serve not just to try to sever the logistical links with Philippine outposts in those far-flung areas.  They know full well that an error or the rash actions of a Philippine trooper could lead a Filipino firing the first shot.  That would make the MDT as worthless as the paper it's printed on, and give the Chinese full license to take whatever action it deemed appropriate.

The MDT may not quite be what many of us hope for.  The real value of the MDT if anything has been to maintain the tenuous status quo in the region.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 19, 2018, 11:08:39 AM
A fourth option

Star Trek fans would recognize the Duterte administration’s chosen course of action as a “Kobayashi Maru (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3570.0)” solution. A re-writing of the rules of the game to win a “no-win” scenario.

A favorable solution to the China-problem requires levels of out-of-the-box-thinking at the executive level traditionally absent from Malancanang. It calls for a uniquely Filipino solution that matures relations with traditional allies -- that are more accustomed to either an overly agreeable Philippine stance or a mendicant mindset; engages non-traditional players to broaden the country’s geopolitical engagements, and redefines PH-CN relations to the Philippines’ advantage. 

The audacious goal of the 4th option is, simply put: to convince China to see things our way. To conduct itself in a manner that conforms to our own laws, thus blurring — if not eliminating — the distinction between how we would conduct our affairs had China simply vanished from the face of the Earth and Duterte’s desired end-state that grants us unimpeded use and access to resources that are ours to begin with. It is full exercise of our sovereignty . . . but without, initially, the pomp and circumstance that comes with it

If China were a bully, Option 1 would have started a fight with the bully that could only end with us in either a wheelchair or the grave. Option 2, surrender, would leave us with nothing. Option 3 would have us pick a fight with the bully while hiding behind a big, but distracted neighbor that retains the option to go to the movies whenever he wants . . . regardless of our fitness to resort to option 1 when we are left alone.

Option 4 would have the bully wonder why he had to act like a douche bag in the first place . . . and learn to play nice. It would not make the bully go away, but would essentially make him leave us alone. All the while . . . wondering who we would side with if he ever decided to picked a fight with our big neighbor.

While the need to continue, even accelerate, the AFP modernization program remains, Option 4 will not be achieved by a feat of arms, as the Philippines currently lacks the martial power to enforce its policies, and its allies remain uncommitted to support Philippines claims. It will not be a result of international pressure, as force and shame simply gives China a domestic-politics-based incentive to dig in its heels.

It will require the use of a mix of incentives, gamesmanship, and polite resolve, to maneuver the kleptomaniac dragon into recognizing our claims, and to conduct its activities -- whatever they may be -- on our terms. IF this plan works . . . it will be a triumph of unconventional diplomacy AND financial deterrence.

Chinese financial self-interest -- not the threat of war -- will force China to respect Philippine law and Philippine claims.

If this approach sounds far fetched and fantastic, contrast it with the alternative:

Quote
Cowering behind our allies in the hope that they would fight our battles for us while we have no practical means to join the fight alongside them, and hope that our economy doesn’t stall in the meantime as they finish OUR job for us.

Would the US and our other allies really want to fight for us while we had no skin in the game? It’s worth noting that merely agitating China with diplomatic protests isn’t actually synonymous to “skin in the game”. Poking the dragon without an overall plan for success is a plan to fail.

Option 4 shows our allies that we have matured as a nation, are able to think for ourselves, and is now a capable partner for any nation that chooses to call us friend, rather than a dependent state to be propped up.

How do we know its working?
 
The key to understanding The President’s intentions is remembering that he is a nationalist (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3580.0) first . . . all other labels second. Not communist (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1180.0) . . . not internationalist . . . it is Pinoy-first. Any actions in pursuit of that holy-grailish 4th option must, therefore, be viewed in this context.

Words are infamously cheap. Therefore the average Filipino understandably expects to see proof of Duterte’s policies.

Such proof can be obtained in two forms:

What has been prevented (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12001#msg12001)
What has already, or is currently, being done (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12002#msg12002)

Finally, we get to the crux of the these, which is the 4th option.

Again, I will try to sift through this.  But as I have prefaced in my first reply post, this issues at play are exceedingly complex, with a lot of different factors involved.  And if the discourse I have outline here seems muddles, then it is, in my humble opinion, largely due to the complexity of the issue at hand.

As a general rule, in a complex problem such as this, it is best that one has as many options as possible, and not confine yourself to an either/or situation.  And so it is nice to have the clarity that is outlined here, that defines up to 4 possible options in this scenario.  And I would hope that the readers, both here and in the FB honeypot, would have similar clarity to try to define other possible options.

And so I cringe when one extreme side of the debate tries to define the discussion as the only real choice as being to fight it out to try to reclaim our territories, knowing full well that the inferior state of our armed forces in terms not just of quantity, but also of quality, makes such a conflict a little bit like a confrontation between a puppy and an 18-wheeler Mack truck.  This is Option #1 as outline in the thesis.

Likewise, I also cringe when the other extreme of the debate displays a preference for capitulation over the West Philippine Sea issue.  They mistakenly interpret the moves of the present Duterte administration as such (just as opponents of the administration sometimes describe present policy, but for the opposite reason).  However, those that favor capitulation tend to downplay and/or refuse to see the importance of the West Philippine Sea, not just in terms of sovereignty, but also its relevance with regard to mineral and aquatic resources, and more importantly the Philippines' access to sea lanes which are vital to the country's long term economic growth.  A few also believe that the country can gain "consuelo de bobo" benefits from China in much the same way Philippines once did with the United States.  Here is your Option #2.

Option #3 is never really off the table.  Because if the circumstances change such that Option #4 begins to break down, then the last line of defense becomes Option #3.

To some extent, this is reflected in the the statements put out by the Duterte government in May 2018 which drew "red lines" (reclamation/fortification of Scarborough Shoal, overt move against the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal, and unilateral resource extraction in the West Philippine Sea).  If those "red lines" are crossed, Duterte has said he would go to war.

While this may seem like an Option #1 move, then I would refer you back to my earlier comment about Option #1........the part about a puppy taking on a Mack truck.

The Duterte administration's announcement of a "red line" called to mind the US' 1823 promulgation of what became known as the "Monroe Doctrine".  For those not versed in American history, in 1823, then US President James Monroe announced in a State of the Union address that the United States would defend the newly independent nations of Latin America from European intervention.  Of course, the United States of 1823 was a weak military power, having just emerged from near defeat at the hands of the British in the War of 1812, and was hardly in a position to prevent European powers from going in and carving up Latin America.  However it turns out, the British made a similar declaration to the powers of Europe........hand off the Western Hemisphere.  The only difference is that the British could back up that declaration using ships-of-the-line and the cannon of the largest navy on the planet.

I make the analogy of the Duterte "red line" to the Monroe Doctrine in that the Philippines, given the present state of its armed forces is hardly in a position enforce such a "red line", and if anything, we're still struggling to get to the equivalent of the "six frigate" navy that the US had in the War of 1812.  What ultimately is going to enforce Duterte's "red line" is going to be a similar "red line" declaration the Americans have reportedly made regarding any reclamation activities at Scarborough Shoal.  That message was backed up by the overflight of American A-10s and other aircraft over the shoal in 2016, as well as the presence of American patrol aircraft during the 2014 Ayungin Shoal incident when the Chinese attempt to blockade an attempt to resupply the BRP Sierra Madre.

That smells like an Option #3 move to me.

Now, on to the 4th option itself......... (to be continued)
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 19, 2018, 01:17:33 PM
The basic premise of the Fourth Option, this idea that financial gain would be China's motivation to play along, I find it.......well, I have my reservations about it.

It's not that I think it's a bad idea.  If anything, if you are going to try to get China to go for positive encouragement to play nice, then appealing to their sense financial gain would be not just the best way to do it, it's probably the only way to do it.

But that's not where my concerns about Option #4 come from.  It more stems from the thought that financial gain, while a very important objective, is not China's sole motivator.

First of all, the Chinese have a particularly acute sense of national honor.  That sense of national honor is very much tied in with their ideas about sovereignty.  This has been on display since the late 1980s, when began to embark on a national quest to reclaim "lost" territories, not just "lost" within recent history, but also "lost" within the last several centuries.  We saw this with China taking over the Paracels.  We saw this with the Chinese beginning to encroach into Philippine waters.  It culminated with China regaining sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macau.  It is at the roots of China's desire to get Taiwan back.  And it is very much in play with the disputes in the South China Sea.  It has become very much ingrained into the Chinese national psyche that those territories, including the South China Sea, belong to China.  Again, drawing from an example of US History, it has a lot of similarities to the 19th century American concept of "Manifest Destiny", the concept that the Americans had a God-given destiny to settle and rule the American continent.  Likewise, the Chinese feel that they have a similar Manifest Destiny to control East Asia and the Western Pacific.

So while appealing to that sense of financial gain may be a more logical approach, if a Manifest Destiny-like sense of national honor is at play, then that can border on the irrational.  While it could be argued that China could profit from cooperating with the Philippines and even going so far as recognizing Philippine claims, it could be superseded by the loss of face that would be felt by the Chinese nation by conceding something it believes belongs to it, particularly if that concession is made to a country that is perceived as an inferior power or vassal state, such as the Philippines.

This interrelationship between that sense of national honor and sovereignty is also exemplified every time China puts out a press release that pertains to sovereignty issues in the South China Sea, with the oft-repeated phrase "clear and indisputable sovereignty".  Time and again, the Chinese reiterates that it has "clear and indisputable sovereignty over the territories in the South China Sea", seemingly to drive home the point to the entire word as if to repeat the phrase often enough would make it come true. 

Which is what they might in fact be trying to do.

That phrase "clear and indisputable sovereignty" has been repeated so often, that it is apparent that the Chinese have drawn a very hard line with regard to sovereignty, and they have absolutely no intention of compromising, or coming down off of it.  Or at the very least, it's going to take a lot.......an awful lot for the Chinese to come down off of that stance.

This is why, while others go berzerk whenever talk of joint exploration with the China gets mentioned, or go apes@#t at the talk of 60-40 splits, I just sit back, comfortable of the fact that the Chinese will never, ever accept joint exploration under those conditions.

And this is why they will never ever accept such terms:

If China believes that what we call the West Philippine Sea belongs to China, then the territories in question cannot be offered by the Philippines to China to be jointly explored.  As far as China is concerned, the Philippines is in no position to offer the use of territory which is not supposed to belong to them.

Therefore, if China were to accept such an offer of joint exploration in places like Reed (Recto) Bank, then China would effectively be admitting that the West Philippine Sea does not belong to it.  And this is something the Chinese government cannot do without "losing face".  While this may be a trivial matter in terms of the international scene, it may be more relevant to the Chinese government in terms of domestic politics.  Some have suggested that "face" is tied to the Chinese government's legitimacy, and that their obstinacy with regard to the South China Sea issue may stem from fears that any loss of face may erode their legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese people.

If anything, it may be possible that the Duterte administration may be making such offers of joint exploration knowing full well that the Chinese would never accept such an offer.  In doing so, the administration can now turn and tell the world, "look, we're trying to be reasonable, they aren't.......who's the a@#hole now."

Of course, the Chinese themselves have made an offer of joint exploration themselves.  How does that reconcile with the fact that they won't accept a Philippine offer?

The Chinese, in their world view, believe that only they have the right to make such an offer.  They believe the territory to be theirs.  Therefore, in their minds, they should make the offer.  I suspect that what the Chinese have in mind is similar to the Pearl River Estuary exploration tracts off the coast of Hong Kong, which the Chinese have leased out to South Korean oil exploration firms.  What they might likely do is offer oil exploration tract to Philippine oil exploration firms in places like the Reed (Recto) Bank, and call that "joint exploration".  In that way, the Chinese would retain sovereignty, and the Philippines gets a piece of the action.

The only problem here is that the Philippines' concept of oil exploration is much like that of China's Pearl River Estuary project.......lease the tracts out to foreign companies, let the foreigners do the dirty work while the Philippines pockets the money.  There are few, if any, purely Philippine companies that can handle that kind of work.  And so even if the Chinese were to make such an offer to the Philippines, the Philippines might not be able to take advantage of it.  Nor would it necessarily be wanting to do so, since excepting such an offer would be tantamount to conceding sovereignty over the disputed areas.

Secondly, it should be noted that the interplay between the Philippines and China does not take place in a bubble.  This is one component.......an important one, but nonetheless one component, of much larger issues, not just of the collective territorial and sovereignty disputes, but also of East Asian affairs, global politics, and the tango that is taking place between two superpowers:  the US and China.  And so changes with those much larger issues will inevitably upset the delicate milieu that is the relationship between the Philippines and China.

Where the 4th option could get upset stems from one basic fact:  in this particular relationship, we are not the party that holds the leverage.  China is holding a lot of the cards:  in terms of military might, in terms of being the force "on the ground" in the disputed territories, and in terms of being the bigger economic power with China accounting for around 20-25% of our exports.  And so with the Chinese holding the leverage, they can, to some extent, dictate the parameters of the relationship.

With that said, move away from the bubble, and let's go to Scarborough Shoal.

At present, Scarborough Shoal has settled into some semblance of a status quo.  While the Chinese still control the shoal, Philippine fisherman have at least been able to operate in the shoal's vicinity (but still not within the shoal itself).  While there are still reports of harassment, such as the forced "trade" of Philippine fishing catches, there aren't the reports of China Coast Guard vessels emptying their bilge keels on some poor hapless Filipino fisherman.

However, the fishing detente doesn't change Scarborough Shoal's strategic importance with regard to control over the South China Sea.  Scarborough Shoal is located in the South China Sea's northeast quadrant.  A base from the shoal would allow whoever occupied the shoal to control that quadrant and the strategically important Bashi Channel between Luzon and Taiwan.  For the Chinese, the Bashi Channel is an important egress point for the PLA Navy to operate in the open Pacific.  And more importantly, control over the Bashi Channel for the Chinese would prevent the US Navy from entering and operating in the South China Sea.

And so here is the conundrum........with the US increasing the frequency and scope of its FONOPs, is there a point where the Chinese decide that military expediency (i.e. countering or even inhibiting US Navy operations in the South China Sea) starts to take precedence over good relations with the Philippines?  And if so, does that result in the Chinese breaking the detente that the Duterte administration has carefully crafted with the Chinese?  Does this mean that the Chinese cross the "red line" and begin to fortify Scarborough Shoal?

And then what?  Do we drift toward Option #3?  Option #1?  Heaven forbid, Option #2?

Option #4 has been described in previous discussions as a way of "buying time".  Buying time often means trading ground for time.  However, with the situation in the West Philippine Sea, the Chinese have backed us up so much that we have now come to the point that "red lines" have become necessary.  We can no longer trade space for time because to back up further would lead to serious consequences and a grave threat to sovereignty, if not outright capitulation.

To say that time is of the essence would be an understatement.  An unpredictable change in the status quo of the region at any given time could upset the situation and find someone pushing hard against one of those "red lines".

Where the 4th option is particularly ingenious is its emphasis on longer-term measures, such as infrastructure projects and economic development.  This accomplishes two things.  First it places the country on a stronger economic foundation, and renders it less susceptible to economic coercion, which is one of the useful "short-of-war" measures that countries such as China and others can wield against the Philippines.  It helps the Philippines gain leverage of its own.  Secondly, a strong economy provides a stable tax base that generates revenue for the government........revenue that can be used to fund national defense projects (among other projects).

But these initiatives take time.  And the Philippines might necessarily have control over that time before it gets backed into a corner.  And so in order for this to work, decision makers need to force their way past the morass that usually characterizes the way things have traditionally gotten done in the Philippines.

But it may not be enough.  And decision makers may find themselves compelled to make additional concessions in order to buy time.  But I would be wary of having to repeatedly resort to that, as over time, we could find ourselves pushed by increasingly difficult concessions until something gets demanded which we are unwilling to concede under any circumstances.

More to follow........
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 19, 2018, 01:47:58 PM
A side word on Option #2........

Both pro- and anti-administration supporters have pointed to the lack of West Philippine Sea patrols as evidence that we have embarked on an Option #2 scenario.  Anti-administration supporters have claimed that we have pulled naval and coast guard patrols out of the WPS and effectively conceded those waters to the Chinese.

Pro-administration supporters have claimed that having any form of naval patrols in the WPS is tantamount to an act of war.

Both sides appear be both right AND wrong.........two things can be equally true.

The assertion that there are no WPS patrols has been debunked by various reports at different times of Philippine Navy ships in the WPS.  The example cited in the thesis of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar anchoring off Pagasa Island is one such case.  But by in large these patrols apparently do continue, though not publicized. 

However, there is a lack of a presence afloat of Philippine vessels in the area.  Hence the claims of lack of patrols.  This is more a function of the lack of naval assets with the capability for extended patrols farther out into the WPS.  While patrols are taking place, the assets being sent out there are woefully inadequate in terms of number and quality.

One of the issues that should be addressed in this "buying time" period needs to be to address the patrol capability gap.  It addresses multiple issues, such as keeping adequate presence in the WPS.  And if the end game is to acclimatize the Chinese to Philippine presence, part of that process would arguably be to get them used to the presence of Philippine OPVs in those waters.  Plus, with all the talk in recent days of a possible deal with Austal, plus past hinting from Hanjin Subic of a possible deal with the DND, it does serve a purpose in terms of economic stimulus and SRDP.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 19, 2018, 02:10:37 PM
With regard to issues surrounding the Chinese debt trap.........

To discuss this, we must be reminded of the reality that countries (and even individuals) are still motivated by self-interest.  And so any assistance from any country in any form will always be colored by the cold reality that no one is providing assistance out of the goodness of their own heart.

(and I needn't remind anyone here about the attitude of some in the Philippines that holds that other nations should be obligated give us this and give us that out of the goodness of their heart.)

That being said, with any offer of aid, whether it be from China or anyone else, the old phrase "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware) would be a prudent reminder.

All the more with China, given their track record of dealings with other countries.  While the thesis points out countries, such as Israel and Indonesia, that have managed to steer clear of the debt trap, there have been a number of others also mentioned in the thesis that have run across the proverbial minefield.

Some have postulated that the Chinese use the debt traps as a means of control, in order to extract concessions from other countries, such as prime business opportunities, votes in the UN, basing rights, etc.  While the author of the thesis counsels that we need to learn from the mistakes of others, and thereby avoid the debt trap, I would advise caution and vigilance.  It would appear that China's intentions when it comes to the loans it provides and the infrastructure financing that it makes available are not so benign as we would like it to be.  Despite the fact that such financing is a source of badly needed capital, the long term costs may outweigh the benefits.

And no, we did not trade loans for artificial islands and reefs.  In the Chinese world view, those artificial islands and reefs already belong to them, and therefore they don't need to give anything to anyone for them.

If anything, in as much as the spotlight has been on Chinese funded projects for the Philippines, few, if any, have actually gotten off the ground.  The infrastructure projects that have gotten underway have mainly been Japanese funded projects.  Which would lend credence to the idea that it might be Japan that the Philippines is really engaging, and not China.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on August 19, 2018, 02:36:31 PM
In the midst of writing all of this down this evening, an interesting thought occurred to me........

China has all of the leverage in this situation.  They have forces on the ground.  They have their Maginot Line of sand.  They could waltz right into Scarborough Shoal and essentially close the Wall of Sand's equivalent to the Belgian border.  So why did they stop?  An US' imposed "red line" perhaps?  Maybe.  But it doesn't explain why the Chinese graciously allowed Philippine fishermen to reenter the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal (if not inside the shoal itself).

Why would they ever want to cooperate in going down the road of Option #4?

One possibility is that President Duterte managed to extract concessions from Chinese using the one thing he said he wouldn't use:

Permanent Court of Arbitration Case No. 2013-19:  the Republic of the Philippines vs. the People's Republic of China.

But it wasn't in the way most of us expected it would be used.

If there was one thing the Chinese feared more than anything, it was that a losing ruling before the Tribunal would be used to beat them over the head.  That would have been hugely embarrassing, and resulted in serious loss of face.

It is conceivable that the administration went to the Chinese and extracted some "reasonable" concessions.  In exchange, the Philippine promised not to try to bludgeon the Chinese over the head with that ruling.

If there was one piece of leverage the Philippines had, the PCA ruling was it.  It's not a permanent solution.  But it stabilized the lines, so to speak.

What happens next?  Only time will tell.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on September 04, 2018, 10:21:34 PM
One of my early long-posts about the administration’s communication style. This one came on the heels of Duterte’s “Hitler” remark. This laid the seed for the thesis.

Duterte is crass and foul mouthed. Both of which are counter-productive for a high-profile position where diplomacy is part of the job description. Euphemisms, expressions and statements that fall under the category of “inside jokes” do not translate well -- even beyond domestic regional divides. If even non-Visayans have difficulty making contextual, rather than literal, interpretations of his speeches . . . what hope will a foreigner ever have of This adds avoidable, inexcusably unnecessary, complexity to our foreign relations. Even among our traditional allies who are -- theoretically -- more accustomed to our cultural idiosyncracies and our history.

Rational Duterte supporters will agree with this. In the speeches this month, even Duterte conceded to the issues his language is causing and has started to simply inaudibly mouthing his favorite expression rather than actually verbalizing it. Tacit acceptance that the prevailing state of affairs is, inherently, disadvantageous to the nation as a whole, and his administration in particular.

His demeanor creates problems that didn’t have to be there in a first place. Less unnecessary, extraneous, talk . . . less mistake. Only time will tell the extent to which Duterte FINALLY learns that lesson.

As inexcusable as the Hitler frackas is, there is a method to this madness. In fact, there is even a benefit to appearing mad. Let that sink for a bit . . . then continue reading.

This foul-mouthed persona fits in with a much broader narrative that fits with his trademark approach to law enforcement -- which remains his flagship initiative: Deterrence and fear management..

Duterte is a career government executive who knows how to motivate the population under his care. He is well acquainted with the tools at his disposal . . . to include fear, which he regularly wielded to deter criminals or implement behavioral adjustment when he was a mayor.

The power of fear greatly greatly benefits from uncertainty about the extent to which the President is willing to go against the enemies of the state that he has chosen to target in his war on drugs.

If one keeps this in mind . . . the rationale for his ill-chosen Hitler hyperbole becomes clear. Same goes for his threats to “kill” that he made throughout his campaign and even to this day. It is his intent to the be the drug lord’s worst nightmare, and what nightmare is scarier than Hitler?

Sounding like a mad-man, which a fair number of folks have actually come to believe, lends credibility to his threats.

What folks appear to be missing . . . is that it is actually WORKING for the intended audience. This is evidenced by the sheer number of individuals who’ve actually flooded the existing drug rehabilitation centers.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-philippines-war-on-drugs-dealers-choose-retirement-over-death-1468509951

This is Psychological Operations at its finest people. Any student of martial affairs ought to be familiar the following quote from Sun Tzu

“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”

If you can get your enemies, and those that would threaten your way of life, to abandon armed conflict peacefully -- through a combination of incentives and the FEAR of consequences -- then what responsible leader would not try?

====

Level-headed critics of the President’s methods rightly point out the need for checks and balances. Skeptical critics allege that the President’s threats and antics are evidence that the need for those checks are lost on the President.

It would do the latter category of critic well to remember that Duterte is more intimately familiar with the workings of Philippine jurisprudence than the majority of his critics. He was, after all, a government prosecutor before he entered politics.

The following excerpt from his inauguration speech is relevant to this discussion (see time index 05:27):

https://youtu.be/0Dx4SiyERVg

“As a lawyer and former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the President. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising”.

Now, consider the following statement he made both in Vietnam and his press conference in Davao after returning from Vietnam, he repeatedly said:

“There is nothing illegal about threatening criminals”

These are threats. Will he act on those threats? If you think he is really crazy . . .






His statements that challenge the status quo also dovetail well with his efforts to establish credibility with the enemies of the state whom he wants to abandon the armed struggle. This is true for both domestic and foreign enemies. His vocal anti-US stance actually neutralizes their go-to response to peace overtures -- that the PH government is merely an "imperialist puppet".

Any serious student of statecraft OUGHT to understand that conversations in front of the media are not the ONLY conversations that take place. The former can even be used to either obfuscate ongoing initiatives, or be used to extract concessions that would otherwise not be possible.

Naturally, the very nature of such discussions require them to remain out-of-sight. Given the controversial nature of the public pronouncements, which fly in the face of long-standing international norms, the diplomatic machines of world governing bodies and world powers are automatically obligated to issue official public rebukes, since failure to do so would appear to be tacit approval of such pronouncements.

Behind closed doors . . . it ought to be safe to say that more rational discussions are taking place. Absence of evidence of such discussions are often touted as evidence of absence, which further complicates the delicate dance that Duterte is apparently making with the status quo. Complicated even further by his lack of tact.

====

But . . . what if Duterte REALLY crosses the line?

Every level-headed supporter of ANY point of view needs to be mindful of their “Red-lines”. Lines that should never be crossed is support for that point of view is to continue. Related to this, “trip wires” need to be laid down to warn of approach of that line . . . as well as when such lines are crossed.

Many have suggested that Duterte’s statements alone crossed any reasonable red lines. Especially his statements towards the US and overtures towards alternative powers, to inlude the unthinkable: China.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

The ultimate reason why relations with any country are strong in the first place is built upon in the sheer number of out-of-the-sight-of-media relations that exist at all levels of government. The periodic occupant of the Office of the President is but one such relation. It is, of course, a very important position as it dictates the course of foreign policy. But it does not sever all lines of communication and all linkages.

If all 71 years of US-PH relations can be irrepairably damaged by the antics of a single politician, then common-sense dictates that we question that strength -- and nature -- of that relationship in the first place. Look to the Netanyahu incident, prior to the 2012 US elections, for an example of how mature relations between independent nations can take dramatic turns, without permanent effects.

If we are ever to arrive at a resolution with China, a dialogue must take place. It would be foolish to pretend that the it did not exist. One does not defeat a bully by ignoring him. That is done by facing him. Standing up to him as the situation demands, and if necessary defuse the situation with calm words.

At this point in our history, we as a people need to reflect on what it means to be independent, and what it means to be an ally. If there is any legacy that Duterte can leave behind, it would at the very least be this conversation.

How does one know when such trip wires have been triggered? That is what discussion groups like the DRP are for. To foster frank, level-headed, discussions about where things are going. This is why Opus’ decision to shutdown the Timawa forum is atrociously ill-timed, and why it became necessary to create this alternative forum.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on October 21, 2018, 01:03:49 AM
The US-CN trade war exposed that lobbying exists in China. Where there is lobbying, there is leverage. Hence the value of "The 4th option" as a defense against Chinese aggression, an option that can ONLY WORK if we engage with Chinese businesses. With that engagement comes the threat of economic pain.

Corresponding thread on the forum's FB extension here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rpdefense/permalink/1880726142013224/

Exclusive: China's Unipec to resume U.S. oil purchases after tariff policy change - sources
Florence Tan, Meng Meng

3 Min Read

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-oil/exclusive-chinas-unipec-to-resume-us-oil-purchases-after-tariff-policy-change-sources-idUSKCN1L90EY

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Unipec will resume purchases of U.S. crude oil in October after a two-month halt due to the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The decision to start buying crude oil again from the United States comes after Beijing earlier in August excluded it from its import tariff list.

A source with knowledge of the matter said Unipec will “buy some U.S. crude, loading in October, following the change in Beijing’s policy.”

“Unipec’s imports shrunk when China retaliated by putting crude oil on the tariff list but now it is coming back to normal business with import volumes recovering,” a second source said.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss commercial deals with media.

< Edited >

Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s biggest refiner Sinopec (600028.SS) and also one of the largest buyers of U.S. oil, stopped loading American crude in August and September after Beijing announced in June that it plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on crude oil imports from the United States.

Following lobbying by Sinopec, crude was dropped from China’s final tariff list earlier in August, allowing Unipec to resume importing U.S. oil, the sources said.

It was not clear how much U.S. oil Unipec would buy. U.S oil takes about 1-1/2 months to reach China, which means cargoes loaded in October would arrive in November or December.

It also was not clear, however, whether all of the U.S. crude bought by Sinopec would end up in China.

< Edited >

=====

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/sinopec.jpg)
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on November 18, 2018, 08:45:30 AM
Shared a copy of the thesis. Let's see where this goes.

https://twitter.com/adroth_ph/status/1063901254118596608

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/1-29.jpg)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2-18.jpg)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/3-10.jpg)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/4-7.jpg)

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/5-6.jpg)
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on November 26, 2018, 02:49:27 AM
Interestingly . . . Justice Carpio appears to be onboard with the following aspect of the 4th option.

Step Two: Acclimatize China to submitting to Philippine law

Once a dialogue is established, the next step is to test that relationship with activities that are, at the very least mutually beneficial, if not heavily slanted in favor of the Filipino people.

Conducting joint military exercises is a quick-win, as it establishes lines of communication that could be called upon in the event of contentious encounters. For example, both countries pledged to work towards greater cooperation, and establish a hotline (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=907.0) between their respective coast guard organizations in December 2016. Bilateral exercises (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2012.0) are also being considered.

Beyond military engagements, government sanctioned commercial engagements would be the next logical confidence building measure. It also serves as a means for establishing precedent for getting China to conduct itself on Philippine terms. Commercial engagements are significant for the following reasons:

- It acclimates China to an environment where it is made to play by Philippine rules
- Creates a monetary incentive for China to obey those rules
- It creates a revenue stream that enables the Philippines to afford the acquisition of defenses in case China misbehaves

For commercial engagements, oil exploration is a logical starting point. With Malampaya nearing the end (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2114.0) of its useful life the Philippines needs to find a viable replacement and find it fast. Otherwise we will lose an irreplacable revenue stream for the AFP Modernization Trust Fund (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2878.0), which is allowed the DND-AFP to receive funds beyond what is allocated by the National Budget.

The Department of Energy has identified numerous potential drilling sites around the country for petroleum exploration, both within Philippine territorial waters and within the country's EEZ. Whether it be by design, or by happy circumstance, the first drill site to reach commercial viability is a site whose Service Contract had already been sub-contracted to a Chinese company for exploitation: The Alegria Oil Field in Cebu.

President Rodrigo Duterte dials the valve of one of the Polyard wells and the pipe (left side) lights up which signals fuel is coming out. The oilfield is located in Alegria, Cebu. Photo by Arni Aclao.

(http://defenseph.net/bootcamp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/1-12.jpg)

Not only does the Alegria field serve as a viable supplement, and eventually an alternative, to Malamapaya, it serves as an acid test for PH-CN cooperation, which can then be use a template for future collaboration -- even in the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea.

The Alegria Oil field is not the only opportunity to test China's ability to behave itself. The Calamian oil field (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2171.0), which is covered by Service Contract 57 and had been awarded to a Chinese company since 2006, would be an incremental increase in Chinese involvement. Like Alegria, Calamian would be clearly within Philippine territory, and thus conducted under Philippine laws.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement days after he announced that there are two areas that may be subjected to joint exploration by the Philippines and China, namely SC 57 and SC 72.

< Edited >

“As far as 57 is concerned, they will comply with the decision with La Bugal (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=2098.msg10972#msg10972) [ruling]. They can participate in exploration and exploitation provided, as the decision says, we have ultimate control over the exploration and the development,” Roque said.

The Palace official also confirmed that China would be under the control of the Philippines during the joint exploration on SC 57.

“They’re only a foreign entity engaged in exploration and development. But they have to do it under Philippine laws,” Roque said.


< Edited >

These test cases are not only important for PH-CN relations, it is also important for the morale of the country. While Duterte's supporters remain as rabid as ever, and Social Weather Survey (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=286.0) results show that the President continues to enjoy healthy popular support it, remains important to help the "the other side" get past the obfuscation-laden discourse and, at the very least, reach a common understanding of the plan. Because it is only with that common-understanding that a rational discussion about the merits, and demerits, of the plan can be had.

For both supporters and critics, ventures like the Alegria Oil field provide an opportunity to observe how the Chinese government conducts business, and see for themselves if China will attempt to replicate the horror stories (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1583.0) reported in other countries: from debt traps to deals that allegedly impose a form of neo-colonialism (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1583.msg5711#msg5711) in partner countries.

While the administrator's detractors point to these international examples as the inevitable outcome of the President's pivot-to-China and are integral to their allegations of Duterte's intent to "sell-out" to China, the 4th option actually requires the country to muster the fortitude to court danger -- to create the monetary incentive mentioned earlier and coax China have skin-in-the-game with a rules-based relationship with the Philippines -- while firmly keeping all enforceable agreements within the bounds of what is in the best interests of the Philippines.

Check out the point about service contracts here.

MOU on oil development recognizes Philippine sovereign rights, Carpio says
Ellen Tordesillas (Vera Files) - November 25, 2018 - 10:19am

MANILA, Philippines — Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said Friday China could be recognizing the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the disputed waters of the South China Sea covered in the recently-signed Philippines-China Memorandum of Agreement on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development through service contracting arrangements as provided in the MOU.
 
Answering a question on the vagueness of the MOU signed by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, he took note of this portion of the MOU:

"China authorizes China National Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to be the Chinese enterprise for each Working Group. The Philippines will authorize the enterprise (s) that has/ have entered into a service contract with the Philippines with respect to the applicable working area or, if there is no such enterprise for a particular working area, the Philippine National Oil Company –Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) as the Philippine enterprise(s) for the relevant working group."

China as service contractor

"So there's a recognition of service contracting by the Philippines. The way I interpret the MOU is that this is a cooperation by the Philippines with China on oil and gas activities through service contractors," Carpio said during a forum on "Maritime Disputes in the South China Sea-Navigating the Diplomatic Waters,"  organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness at the Diamond Residences in Makati.


"So China comes in by being a contractor of our service contractor or taking equity position in our service contractor or both. So China will come in through service contractors. That's my interpretation," he also said.

< Edited >


Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/11/25/1871600/mou-oil-development-recognizes-philippine-sovereign-rights-carpio-says?fbclid=IwAR335cRtzUme3UTj9T6IPaHqK7QPEEvclP3quYIyylAgCjQTZCVl3vMkIhk#q8P1CIdacAGrqW3L.99
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: dr demented on December 21, 2018, 01:14:40 PM
In any case, with the Department of Defense now under Jim Mattis, we have seen an increase in tempo of FONOPs, with increased military-like activity taking place with the 12 nautical mile zones claimed by Beijing.  They also publicly disinvited China from the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercises, citing Chinese activities in the South China Sea.  But only time will tell where things will go from here.

Add to this an air of unpredictability which comes with the man occupying the Oval Office, Donald J. Trump.  He has publicly criticized allied nations, to the point that many of them have questioned whether the United States would own up to its alliance and treaty obligations so long as Trump is president.  At the same time, Trump has cozied up to nations that have been traditional adversaries of the US, such as Russia.  And there are lingering suspicions that Russia may have had direct involvement in the election of Trump as president in 2016.  Likewise, there have also been reports that members of Trump's family have used their influence in government to facilitate business dealings in China and/or with the Chinese government.

Despite all this, Trump has proven a mixed bag when it comes to getting legislation in his program passed.  Despite his party having majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, little of his legislative agenda has been pushed through, apart from his tax reform program.  That program, which created billions of dollars in tax cuts directed at upper income individuals and corporations, is projected to add trillions to an already large national debt according to an independent US Congressional study.  And as such, it becomes questionable whether the funding would be there for important big ticket defense initiatives such as the expansion of the US Navy to 355 ships, Coast Guard modernization, and border security.   

Trump also seems to have a very different way of doing things.  Some believe that his approach is more bilateral in nature, preferring to deal one-on-one rather than work in coalitions as his predecessor did.  His thinking also tends to be more transactional, a reflection of his business background.

How this bodes for the Philippines......it's hard to say, given Trump's penchant for unpredictability and (from his Twitter posts) volatility.  He seems to get along well with President Duterte (much in the same way that he seems to get along with Kim Jong Il, Vladamir Putin, and Recep Erdogan), and have a common foe in terrorism.  But Trump's frequent clashes with close traditional allies have caused some to wonder whether the US could ever again be trusted to keep its word.

As with any discussion, it is periodically prudent to revise the discussion to reflect the ever-changing situation.

This particular update centers upon the resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

While the resignation, announced by a tweet from President Trump, was described as Mattis' "retirement", it is apparent from the text of Mattis' resignation letter that the Secretary of Defense's departure stems from a fundamental dispute in policy.

https://news.usni.org/2018/12/20/document-secdef-mattis-resignation-letter?fbclid=IwAR0CB7rWWv7HdU8mfKVyQ8Iz464F70yDO9gHNdtD-nqRKXUp6mCSfRRlxmk

Quote
Dear Mr. President:
December 20, 2018

I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.

I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.

I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.

I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.

(signed)

James N. Mattis

It is believed that the direct trigger for the resignation was the announced withdrawal of US troops from Syria (with a declaration of "victory" over ISIS) and the partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.  The withdrawal of troops is perceived to be an abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria and the Afghan government, as well as a reneging of US obligations within the NATO alliance with respect to Afghanistan. Mattis and Trump are believed to have clashed many times in the past over Trump's repeated berating of traditional close allies, and his cozying up to authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea.

There are also suspicions that President Trump's intent to withdraw US troops is tied to his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Russia views Syria as part of its sphere of influence in the Middle East.  In recent weeks, lingering suspicions have continue to fester with regard to the role the Russians played in President Trump's election campaign of 2016, with the indictment and conviction of key members of Trump's campaign committee, as well as his personal lawyer.

How does this all tie back to the Philippines and our previous discussion?

Mattis, in his resignation, pointed out how strongly he believed in the alliances that the US kept with other nations, and how important it was that the US honor its agreements and that it should respect its allies.  The context of the resignation letter seems to indicate that this was the key point of disagreement between himself and his boss.  And in the end, Mattis, felt that he had to step out of the way, as the President had the right to have a Secretary of Defense that was more in line with the President's views.  Trump's public statements with regard to US allies bear that out.

As Secretary of Defense, Mattis seemed to be the most out front in terms of chastising China for its actions in the South China Sea.  You really didn't see that kind of talk from other members of the Trump Administration.  Not from Tillerson when he was at State, nor from his successor Pompeo.  A little bit from Mike Pence.  Nothing from the UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley.  And certainly nothing from Trump himself.  As pointed out previously, the tempo of Freedom of Navigation Operations has increased with Mattis in the Pentagon.  Mattis has also met with Philippine officials, and in particular DND officials, on multiple occasions.  A few more goodies came tumbling out, such as long-asked-for missiles around the time of the Marawi crisis.

If anything, any rifts that seem to have appeared in the relationship between the US and Philippines seemed to have been patched over with Mattis in the Pentagon.  Or at least they seemed to coincide.

It does beg the question:  is American policy with regard to China's actions in the South China Sea something that is germane to the Trump Administration itself?  Or is it something that Mattis was really trying to push behind the scenes?

And with Mattis gone, and given Trump's attitudes toward the US' alliance obligations, what does this mean for the Philippines and its defensive arrangements with the US, and the overall bigger picture of the disputes in the region?

As pointed out in earlier comments, Trump has a marked tendency toward unpredictability and volatility.  At best, this unpredictability might be expected to continue, and may further call into question the US' reliability as a partner and ally.  And at worst, there may be veracity in the allegations that have been leveled at President Trump, and that his actions are bent toward serving certain interests which may not necessarily be in the best interests of the Philippines.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on January 02, 2019, 01:44:15 AM
Latest discussion spurred on by SND Lorenzana's hinting at a review of the US-PH MDT

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones,
 :)
h.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Let me re-order my responses so to communicate the message better.

Quote
If you feel it's not bad timing on PH's part (note I didn't say "If you feel it's GREAT timing", since
THAT would be straw), then we'll just have to disagree.

I would actually argue that the SND’s statements are not meant for the US alone (see further below), and is actually coupled with backend discussions that already put these statements into context.

Kim is not Goldberg (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=408.0), and Lorenzana’s ties run deep.

While I recognize that these are . . . interesting . . . post-WWII times for the US, if the goal is to completely avoid waves then there will never be a good time for anything significant.

'Naku ha, those are motherhood statements.  :)
"Complete subservience" is furthermore pure straw.
There's a gulf between mature disagreement, and the childish level of scorn towards both the
US and the PH-US MDT itself, that we've seen from the highest level of PH.gov.

Comments about subservience and mendicancy are related. See further below.

Quote
Quote
The sooner the US gets accustomed to a Philippines that is willing to go its way on occasion the sooner the relationship matures. The better it will actually be for both countries.

More motherhood statements and straw?  :)
The Philippines HAS been going its own way on occasion since the Clark and Subic boot-out, but
again, never with the childish level of scorn towards both the US and the PH-US MDT itself, that
we've seen from the highest level of PH.gov.

You are partly correct in saying that Philippines went its way with the bases boot-out. But it was a half-arsed departure from precedent because it was only the Senate that went its way. To the very end, Manglapus was pushing for an extension of the US bases treaty, and it was the Senate that rejected it.

The Executive department never wrapped its head around what that boot-out really meant. Which is why the government continued to fund the AFP conservatively, as though it still had full access to the Pentagon's coffers.

That, along with the organizational excesses that came with not having to worry about where funding came from, is what led to the force-deficiencies that modernization has been trying to patch for the past 20 years.

It also gave China the opening it needed in Mischief Reef, and the rest is history.

Quote
Quote
Furthermore, the sooner the Filipino people break out of a mendicant mindset that expects the US to everything for us, that is actually needs to weigh options instead of just "going along", sooner it will actually appreciate the "why" behind the importance of such relationships.

To achieve that goal, sometimes we need to bend the relationship in ways it was never bend before. Think the PMA bamboo analogy.

"Mendicancy" and a total reliance on the US ...are more motherhood and straw, adroth.
At best they are generalities that are only borderline related to the thread-topic, which is that
PH DND Sec wants to try to get a US commitment to include KIG under MDT coverage.

Quote
As you noted, the EU is willing to make its own army. Israel gets away with spying on the US, and so on. Yet . . . they remain allies.

Malacanang’s message has three audiences directed at three partly-intertwined problems.

The first problem is with the Filipino psyche. In US-PH relations, this problem manifest itself in the following schools-of-thought:

“The US cares about us and will never abandon us”
“The US is obligated to protect us”
“We must go along with everything the US says because we don’t want them to abandon us”
“The US abandoned us. How dare they”

The common denominator is treatment of the US as a foreign-policy crutch. Attitudes towards this crutch range from mendicant-acceptance to resentful dependence. Consider the following survey on Filipino impressions about the US.

Filipinos like the US even more than Americans do – Pew Research
Data from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project show Filipino respondents have positive views on the US, Americans, and US Presidents – even better than Americans themselves
Rappler.com
Published 6:26 PM, April 22, 2014
Updated 12:56 AM, April 23, 2014
https://www.rappler.com/nation/56085-philippines-usa-pew-research

< Edited >

Data from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project show a higher percentage of Filipinos surveyed – 85% to be exact – having a more "favorable" view of the American people. Americans come second in the survey, with 84% saying they have a "favorable" view of themselves.

< Edited >

74% of Filipinos surveyed, meanwhile, expressed confidence that China "will never replace the US as the world's leading superpower."

< Edited >

Not surprisingly, 81% of Filipinos surveyed saw the US as a "partner" of the Philippines.

< Edited >


This dependence doesn’t just manifest itself in normal common-tao discourse, it runs deep even in the AFP, where JUSMAG and FMS are still looked upon as substitutes for development of a proper procurement service. Easier to be told what you need, rather than doing the hard work to actually figure things out yourself . . . AND actually living with the choices that you made.

Beyond big ticket items, long-time service Timawans even lament how JUSMAG assistance is sought for things as mundane as per-diem for officers who go on overseas training . . . instead of properly funding such travel in-house through proper fiscal planning and responsibility.

How do you turn something from a crutch, into something is simply viewed as an advantageous arrangement? You make it optional. That’s what where the PMA bamboo analogy comes in.

You can’t straighten crooked piece of bamboo just by bending it to its preferred. If you did it will just bend back to its crooked state. You bend it beyond the preferred state, so that when it bends back, it springs to the intended shape.
Malacanang’s statements are hyperbolic at best and “childish” at worst. But at the end of the day, it is a “bamboo” solution for the domestic audience. You need, at the very least, to question the default assumptions of US-PH relations.

Uproar over the anti-US rhetoric is to be expected because it is unfamiliar, almost sacrilegious, in its content. But if we are to “move the needle” on this matter, something other than business-as-usual is called for.

Enter activities like exercises with Russia. No JUSMAG to provide guard rails, to remind the PN to make sure that these activities are actually logistically supportable. Mistakes will be made (e.g., BRP Davao del Sur reportedly ran into engineering issues coming back from Vladivostok). Lessons will have to be learned.

Integral to success is belief in our ability to succeed. At some point, an adolescent – even an overaged one -- has to ride the bike without training wheels . . . dive into the deep end of the pool before he/she is completely ready.

Second audience is China. Keep them off guard . . . and wondering about what our intentions really are. Buy time to shore up our positions. How? See here (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg12000#msg12000).

Third is the US. This is discussed further in the next section below. But the important bit to note for now is as follows:

If the out-of-left-field pronouncements of one administration is enough to damage US-PH relations, then the “special relationship” was never as strong as advertised in the first place.

The US now has a better ambassador than in early 2016, and knows how to take the administration’s statements in stride and ascertain commander’s intent.

The US is not as “evil” as its critics claim. Nothing ever is because there are ALWAYS two sides to everything. It is also not the charitable institution that many of its admirers believe. If there is an over abundance in admirers, there is a need to overplay the negative to move the needle towards a more balanced view of the real state of affairs

Quote
...and as you noted, the US-NATO treaty is tighter than US-PH. Hence Euro NATO members (as
"the EU") have a lot more rope to play with.

Not so PH, which has furthermore been careless
with its shorter cordage.

One can't upslope a weaker PH position to the durability of NATO.
One can, however, downslope the negative effects of US politics even on NATO, onto the much
weaker position of PH.

Israel? US backing for Israel is rather arguably stronger than even for NATO, and has been for
decades (Simple test lang: how many Israeli citizens in US Congress and Senate? Ask that for,
say, Belgians or any other European country? How about for Filipinos?) Upslope, downslope.

I am under no illusions about the Philippines having even remotely the same leverage as either NATO or Israel, or enjoys the same perception of value.

Past Philippine behavior hasn’t helped that perception one bit. We have been inept in multiple spheres. Not the least of which is how we live up to our defense obligations. No country has had a better front-row-seat to AFP fiascos than the US. Understandably, the AFP has had to contend with US stereotypes.

The US has its own assessments about where it believes the Philippines should direct its resources. Consequently, the assistance and advice it provides is geared towards specific shared concerns, and little else. See JUSMAG (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=277.0).

Our history has also shown that our compliance with the assessments has been predictably favorable. Our decisions have remained within loosely defined – or implied -- US-centric boundaries. As a Timawan in the DND once lamented during the Aquino administration . . . we were painfully hesitant to ask for anything meaningful. We were a known-quantity, that would take what was given.

Anything beyond this . . . the Philippines is on its own.

If it wants anything more, such as firmer assurances with regard to China, it needs to refresh the relationship. It needs to prompt a reassessment of existing pre-conceived notions and calculations. The first step in that is to actually ask for it.

Reception to such overtures can be shaped by how the stage is set. “Antics” that serve to implement the bamboo solution for domestic politics, simultaneously serve to signal a need for a rethink. It is an effort to shape perceptions of value. By signaling that we are willing to go it alone, we are, not only signaling our own house to get its own act together, we are also giving the US reason to refresh its assumptions.

It is, by the way, worth noting that the Philippines is very careful not to alienate our other local partners. This is a "drama" aimed at the one ally that know better than to think that we really want to cut ties.
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on January 22, 2019, 12:02:01 AM
One must wonder how much of China’s internal debt woes can be attributed to the billions spent on building, and then maintaining, its artificial islands in the WPS. More ammo for the #4thoption #kobayashimaru and the threat of economic retaliation.

Forget the Trade War. China Is Already in Crisis

Even if the second-largest economy resolves the current slowdown, it will remain mired in a debt-driven slump.
By Michael Schuman

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-17/forget-the-trade-war-china-is-already-in-crisis?utm_campaign=news&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews

Once again, the world’s investors are turning their worried gaze toward China. And for good reason. Economic growth in the third quarter sank to 6.5 percent, the slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009.

< Edited >

Tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. imposed by President Donald Trump are starting to pinch the country’s factories. A steep and unexpected plunge in imports in December signaled just how sharply the economy is decelerating. That’s led Beijing to turn the volume down on its bravado and negotiate with Washington to defuse the conflict.

A trade pact, if it happens, may soothe investors, and perhaps even juice economic growth—at least temporarily. But it won’t bring an end to China’s woes.

< Edited >

What goes widely unnoticed is that China is already in crisis. No, it’s not the sort of hold-on-for-dear-life collapse the U.S. had in 2008 or the surprising, ferocious meltdowns the Asian Tiger economies experienced in 1997. Nonetheless, it’s a crisis, complete with gutted banks, bankrupt companies, and state bailouts. Since the Chinese distinguish their model of state capitalism as “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” let’s call this a “financial crisis with Chinese attributes.”

< Edited >

What would likely have laid other emerging markets low was just another day’s work for China’s powerful mandarins. The government organized a stock bailout and clamped down on capital outflows. Crisis averted.

That approach is representative of Beijing’s overall strategy toward its debt problem. The government—obsessed with social stability—isn’t allowing the debt bomb to detonate. But the financial crisis with Chinese attributes is inflicting the same damage on the economy anyway.

< Edited >

China is dealing with another feature of a financial crisis: capital flight. Because of strict controls, money can’t gush out as it probably would under a less restrictive regime.

< Edited >
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on February 03, 2019, 11:47:06 AM
Heydarian's latest piece actually lends support to the following section of the thesis that puts the spotlight on the points to ponder about the PH-US MDT

Evaluating the "3rd option": MDT (http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=3740.msg11993#msg11993)

How Washington’s ambiguity in South China Sea puts the Philippine-US alliance at a crossroads

Richard Heydarian writes that the Philippines could ‘downgrade’ its long-standing association with the US if Washington remains unclear on its commitments in disputed waters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 3:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2019, 10:31pm

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2184390/how-washingtons-ambiguity-south-china-sea-puts-philippine-us?fbclid=IwAR3ofg4R13hmvmBn4PPvu2mVGzJ6lN7v5lkEkZ-X7OfpW8P0Zlm2EOQrUAg

< Edited >

The Philippine defence chief openly lamented Washington’s “ambivalent” position on the exact coordinates of its commitments to the Philippines, especially in light of the South China Sea disputes. He explicitly questioned whether the Mutual Defence Treaty is “still relevant to our security” instead of just serving “the interest of other nations”, namely the US.

The first problem with the alliance is the very text of the treaty. According to Article V of the MDT, “an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

Yet, Washington has equivocated on what exactly it considers to be part of “metropolitan” Philippines and the “island territories under its jurisdiction”.

To the Philippines’ horror, its ally largely stood by when China occupied Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef in 1994 as well as during the months-long Philippine-China naval stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

The US has repeatedly refused to clarify whether its treaty commitments apply in the South China Sea, where the Philippines is at loggerheads with several other claimant states.

Moreover, there are doubts whether the treaty provides expedient military help in the event of conflict between the Philippines and any hostile third party. According to Article IV of the treaty, each party “would act to meet the common dangers [in their area of jurisdiction] in accordance with its constitutional processes”.

< Edited >

By calling for a formal review, the Philippine defence establishment likely hopes to compel the US to revisit both the text and its interpretation of the MDT in ways that are more mutually satisfactory. In exchange, Manila may grant US troops expanded access to its military bases, particularly the Bautista and Basa airbases bordering the South China Sea.

< Edited >
Title: Re: A sustainable, whole-nation, “Kobayashi Maru” solution to China’s aggression
Post by: adroth on February 19, 2019, 02:47:09 AM
The Philippines is not afraid of Chinese ‘debt trap’ — Teddy Locsin Jr.
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2019 - 12:00am

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/02/17/1894367/philippines-not-afraid-chinese-debt-trap-teddy-locsin-jr?fbclid=IwAR2TTJhFt0IR2iTaejZ0HUGhBfGqOHoO4gSTJq6WEOefVs2SPKCyLhp2jO8

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is not afraid of the so-called debt trap strategy of the Chinese government, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Speaking at the Hungarian Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade during his official visit to Hungary on Thursday, Locsin said the Philippines has experienced worse in the past under the Western financial system.

“The West went into paroxysms of ecstasy over our people power revolution, which was a rebuke to communism as a way forward,” he said, referring to the 1986 People Power Revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

“Still the West threatened our new democracy with financial destruction if it did not pay back every dollar lent by Western banks to the dictatorship which stole every cent of it. Democratic victory was good for a pat on the back, but not good enough for debt forgiveness,” he added.

< Edited >

In his lecture, Locsin also said the Philippines under the Duterte administration was able to manage its disagreements with China over territories in the South China Sea.

He said the government was able to do so “without retreating an inch from our rightful and inalienable ownership of everything within the widest extent of our sovereign reach in history and international law.

Locsin did not discuss recent activities of China in the disputed region, including the construction of various facilities in features within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

< Edited >

Locsin, however, reiterated the so-called “independent foreign policy” pursued by President Duterte since assuming office in 2016.

“When I first addressed our foreign ministry on my assumption of office, I told them how a truly independent foreign policy should be pursued,” recalled the foreign affairs secretary, the third to serve under the present administration.

It is not independent foreign policy if you simply switch the master before whom you are kneeling. You are still on your knees before another master. An independent foreign policy means getting off your knees and on your feet – and standing up for your country. That is true independence,” he noted.

And while the Philippine Constitution renounces war as an instrument of national policy, Locsin said it only refers to offensive war and never to national defense.


Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/02/17/1894367/philippines-not-afraid-chinese-debt-trap-teddy-locsin-jr?fbclid=IwAR2TTJhFt0IR2iTaejZ0HUGhBfGqOHoO4gSTJq6WEOefVs2SPKCyLhp2jO8#Q2BhIc48sYjthGWK.99