South China Sea, Chinese imperial ambitions, and US imperialism

“Then the security of the land
is a threat to us.” —Paash

The visit of US President Barrack Obama will without a doubt be used as another venue to highlight the supposed “special relationship” between the US and the Philippines, emphasizing how the American superpower can serve as a counterweight against Chinese bullying. More US military presence in the country and the region will once again be justified by President BS Aquino in these terms.

Forgotten in this narrative is the way US military power in the region all the more tramples the Filipino people’s rightful claims over the area in the South China Sea that falls within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. By placing ourselves under the shadow of US control, we simply replace one bully with another bully.

To state the obvious, the South China Sea is a flashpoint in an intensifying conflict between Chinese imperial ambitions and US imperialist interests. “Asia’s cauldron,” Stratfor’s Robert Kaplan said of what he describes as “the throat of the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.” It is not only resource rich, it is where half of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage and a third of all global maritime traffic pass by.

No wonder this lucrative sea lane has become the staging ground for military muscle-flexing by both the US and China. Ever since Deng Xiaoping and his gang of capitalist roaders took over China after the death of Mao Zedong, China increasingly sought fields of investments abroad as dumping grounds of surplus capital and sources of cheap resources.

Today’s China is communist only by name in the same way that the US is a democracy for the big bankers and monopoly capitalists. The South China Sea is for the Chinese capitalist regime what the “Pacific Lake” of so-called “Manifest Destiny” is for the US. Beijing’s military buildup all over what it calls its “historic line” around the entire South China Sea is no different from the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific.

Obama and Aquino: imperialist master and neocolonial puppet.
Obama and Aquino: imperialist master and neocolonial puppet.

In line with US ambitions of a “Pacific Century,” the US-Philippine Agreement for Enhanced Defense Cooperation paves the way for the presence of thousands of US troops in the Philippines.

Ironically, President BS Aquino’s hiding under the skirt of so-called US “benevolence” and military might will in fact only further goad Chinese belligerence in the region. For each little gain against the weak Philippine forces is projected by Chinese leaders as victories in standing up to the US “foreign devil.”

The only real way to stand up to an aggressive neighbor violating Philippine sovereignty is through the arming of the Filipino masses and their mobilization for the defense of the motherland.

But it is another paradox that Aquino and the country’s ruling classes will never entrust arms to an oppressed and exploited majority. They fear that they can easily turn from instruments of external security to internal threats to their power.

The heightened US troop presence thus assumes another dimension in this new light as a way of “securing” the continued opening up of the country’s cheap labor and natural resources for plunder and exploitation by US monopoly capital.

The guns are directed not only against external threats but the specter of resistance by a people enraged by social injustice, mounting inequality, government corruption, and criminal negligence in the face of disasters like Yolanda.

Note: I wrote this commentary for the Philippine Online Chronicles.


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