Nations’ ties reshape through time. Each side’s expectation needs periodic reassuring. Leaders thus must restate exactly where they stand.
Visiting Barack Obama reportedly will bring up today corruption and human rights issues. Noynoy Aquino is to table the strain Beijing is causing in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
Of concern to Filipinos is the clash of Beijing’s nine-dash claim with the UN Convention on Law of the Sea and freedom of navigation. So Obama needs to be asked:
• Do you support coastal states’ right to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone and so, as a responsible nation and ally, condemn China’s invasion of Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef, which are within 200 miles of the Philippines but 700 miles from China’s nearest province?
• What action do you think would make China heed freedom of navigation in the high seas, given that its response to diplomatic calls was unilaterally to impose an ADIZ (air defense identification zone) on all aircraft passing above the East China Sea?
• For you, would China’s making good its threat forcibly to evict a duly commissioned Philippine Navy vessel from James Shoal constitute an act of war to activate the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty?