MANILA – The fear propagated by the government that China might instigate war against the Philippines if provoked is psychological and not based on reality, a defense analyst said Tuesday.
This strategy may have been seen as effective in the first year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, but in the 2 years since the chief executive was elected, “China ended up militarizing everything further,” said Jose Antonio Custodio, member of Manila-based think-tank, Institute for Policy, Strategy and Development Studies, Inc.
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“I think it’s just basically not grounded on reality; it’s just psychological conditioning to accept the shift to China, to shut down opposition to that policy,” he told ANC’s Early Edition.
“It’s similar to that drug war: if you’re a critic, you’re painted as an addict. In this case, if you’re a critic of the policy of China, then you want war,” he said.
With the Philippines no longer at the forefront of “regional efforts to keep China at bay,” Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia stepped up to the role, he said.
“I don’t see Chinese missiles raining down on Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta or even Hanoi. I don’t know where that talk from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), the dichotomy of ‘if we don’t do this, it’s going to be war’,” he said.
“Why will China pick on us when in fact we have a mutual defense treaty with the United States and there are triggers for that mutual defense treaty?” he added.
A military aircraft, a Shaanxi Y-8, was spotted at Subi Reef in the Spratlys, according to photos taken by think-tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) last month.
The aircraft was “designed as a military transport aircraft, but some variants are used for maritime patrol or signals intelligence,” said the AMTI.