WASHINGTON – “Shadow boxing” between the United States and China has taken a serious turn over the latter’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea to the Chinese and the East China Sea, according to former President Fidel Ramos.
Beijing and Washington are in an undeclared arms race, a race for the moment focused on the disputed waters but in the long run would likely center on China’s desire to break out from under the global dominance of the United States, Ramos said in a lecture on Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Ramos also called for Pax Asia-Pacifica to replace Pax-Americana, which has guaranteed regional stability for decades, as a way to dampen tensions in the region.
He said he believes China’s aim is to limit US freedom of access to the China seas, erode the credibility of Washington’s security guarantees to East Asian states, including the Philippines, and also reduce the US sphere of influence in the Asian region.
Despite problems, he did not think war between China and the US would break out.
“There are no more nation enemies out there. The enemies of any country, of mankind, are international terrorism, climate change because of global warming, poverty, hunger, lack of potable water, endemic diseases and the persistence of ignorance and deprivation in many parts of the world,” he said.
The aim of his proposed Pax Asia-Pacifica is for all countries involved – including the US and Canada – to contribute considerable military forces to a coalition or federation of the willing to combat global warming, help in relief operations, fight poverty, ignorance and the like.
Money for military arms should be diverted to this coalition to get it going, he said.
In an open forum, he declined to grade the Aquino administration on its performance. He said Filipinos were all in one boat and that the President as the skipper “must do a better job of bringing us to a better future in spite of the stormy seas and the rocks and patrol boats of the opposition that are in the way.”
Ramos urged Filipinos to support President Aquino in improving people’s lives and in building a country respected and admired in the community of nations.
He praised Aquino for “fighting corruption tooth and nail” but said the President needed to show a strategic roadmap of his programs for the rest of his term.
“I think we are seeing this (roadmap) partially but perhaps since time is of the essence it should have been done during his first 100 days,” said Ramos, who is on a 17-day tour of the US to promote his first authorized biography “Trustee of a Nation” by Dr. Scott Thomson. –With AFP
Ramos was also visiting Washington as part of 60th anniversary commemorations of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the Philippines, its former colony. Elsewhere in the region, the US also has security pacts with Australia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Ramos welcomed the role of the US military in Asia, saying it had provided security to Asia and allowed it to grow economically.
Amid tensions with China, Aquino has allocated P11 billion or roughly $252 million to upgrade the country’s navy, whose flagship vessel, an old US coast guard cutter renamed Gregorio del Pilar, dates from World War II.