THE unprecedented failure of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to issue a joint communiqué concerning the People’s Republic of China’s assault on its weak neighbors like us could be a portent of a more difficult road ahead of us.
The absence of a joint ASEAN communiqué in the recently concluded annual ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh is due to Cambodia’s playing toady to the PROC.
Except for Vietnam, no ASEAN member country openly voiced concern about the PROC’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea.
However, we cannot wholly blame Cambodia for its action because its leaders are beholden to the PROC.
We are just sampling our own bitter medicine, being similarly situated like the Cambodian leaders, most of our national leaders are “helpless if not willing pawns” of the United States.
The Cambodian leadership today owes a lot to the PROC because of the generous and almost string free economic assistance it provides. Traditionally, Cambodia is among the several tributary states of Imperial China.
Take note also that in 1979 the PROC launched a punitive war against fellow communist country Vietnam after it liberated Cambodia from the bloodthirsty Maoist led Khmer Rouge, which was responsible for the “Killing Fields” of Indo-China in the 1970’s.
This historic failure of the ASEAN to take even a minimal stand on the Panatag Reef crisis is proof that there is a difficult long road ahead of us.
It seems that except us and Vietnam, the ASEAN member countries does not want to “rock the boat” so to speak. They are benefiting from the economic resurgence of the middle kingdom.
I fear that with the continuing ASEAN silence and the PROC’s growing economic clout worldwide and the lingering economic stagnation of the United States, it would be emboldened to grab more territories in the West Philippine Sea.
Nevertheless, all is not lost. Aside from Vietnam, we could expect South Korea, Japan, Australia, and, of course, the United States to assist us in some way or another over our territorial dispute with the PROC.
There are also reports that Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore are sympathetic with us and could lend a helping hand albeit secretly.
It is indeed to their interest to join us in this epic struggle considering that these countries have a stake in the “pond” that the PROC is trying to exclusively own.
Be have no way of militarily defeating the PROC on our own but we could offset its overwhelming military advantage with strong public opinion generated through the skillful diplomatic action on our part. Our only chance of beating the PROC is to gain the support of the majority members of the United Nations.
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