Let’s attempt to clear up the smoke on the China-Philippine conflict over territorial waters and atolls in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) by adding more conflicting arguments because it is, ironically, only when we juxtapose opposing sides of an issue that we see the truth.
No other side but our side. The conflict over territorial waters has been blown out of proportion, dragging the public to opposite extremes of the political divide by taking sides—America’s side or China’s side.
At the Pandesal Forum organized by Wilson Lee Flores and George Siy of the Institute of Development Studies Center (IDSC), former Ambassador Alberto Encomienda was quoted in a paper as saying, “We must take a side, and that is our side. Neither pro-America nor pro-China, but pro-Filipino.”
IDSC also quoted former Transportation Undersecretary Art Valdez as saying, “The sea is not meant to divide but to unite” China and the Philippines, which have been using the same waters in trade for many centuries, dating back to 1417 when the Sultan of Sulu visited China.
China’s Kra-tical dilemma? There are trillions of reasons that pushed China to encroach into our waters. About $7 trillion of global trade pass through these waters, the bulk of which belongs to China.
For 30 years now, China has been pushing for the building of the Kra Canal in southern Thailand that will cut down travel distance by 1,200 kilometers from South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. In fact, the Kra Canal project was envisioned a century ago along with the Suez Canal and Panama Canal, but was blocked by certain interest groups, forcing China to secure its trade routes by encroaching in our waters.