Posts Tagged ‘China’

Photo from DZRHNews

 

  1. The scope is very broad. Article II, Sec.4- The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement ((EDCA) provides US forces “agreed locations” where they can conduct a broad range of activities. The agreement does not set any limits on what areas throughout the country could be accessed by US troops, how many troops can be allowed in these areas or facilities, and for how long these troops will be allowed to stay. For all intents and purposes, the entire country can host US troops. US forces can access and put up facilities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, making the agreement broader in scope compared to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement where bases were confined to Clark and Subic. There is also the question on the limits of the activities that can be undertaken in the “agreed locations”, for example, if the US would operate secret prisons or rendition sites in the Philippines, which would be contrary to law.

 

  1. The EDCA will mean permanent US presence – Article I, Sec.1 (b)- US troops will be given authority to access “agreed facilities” on a rotational basis. The agreement does not define what “rotational” means. In practice, under the VFA rotational deployment would mean the changing of personnel deployed in an area, resulting in the permanent presence of the troops. In Mindanao, 600 US Special Forces are being rotated, resulting in their permanent presence in the island since 2002. Rotational presence is euphemism for permanent presence. The provision that the EDCA will not lead to permanent presence or basing is worthless.

 

  1. The US will operate facilities as military bases and will drag us into overseas conflicts- Article III, Sec. 1 – The EDCA grants US force and private contractors access to “agreed locations” where they can conduct a broad range of activities including but not limited to; training, support, refueling of aircraft, bunkering of vehicles, temporary maintenance of vehicles, temporary accommodation of personnel, communications, prepositioning of equipment, supplies and materiel, and deploying forces and materiel. From the description above, the “agreed locations” will be operated as US military bases. One new feature of the EDCA is that it explicitly allows the Philippines to be a staging ground for US operations overseas.  This could range from being a launching pad of drone strikes, and other offensive operations that would make the Philippines involved in US conflicts abroad.

 

  1. The entire country could be an operating base- Article III, Sec. 2 – The Philippines shall assist transit or temporary access by US forces to “public land and facilities (including roads, ports and airfields), including those owned by local governments, and to other land and facilities (including roads, ports and airfields). Again, the entire country can be used by US forces, making the EDCA much broader in scope than the previous RP-US Military Bases Agreement. It bears stressing that the pact does not define what “temporary access” means, except that it is distinct from “transit” or US forces just passing through.

 

  1. US forces will get a lot of perks under the EDCA. Article III, Sec.3 – US forces shall have access to “agreed locations” “without rental or similar costs”. So not only will US troops get unlimited access, they can also stay here rent-free. Article VII, Sec. 1 – US forces and their private military contractors can use utilities such as water and electricity but will be tax-exempt, with their supposed taxes being paid for by the Philippine government. Article 7 Sec.2- US forces will also be allowed radio frequencies free of charge.

 

  1. The illusion that we’re in-charge. Article III, Sec.4 – US forces will retain “operational control” of the “agreed locations” and will have authority to undertake construction of permanent facilities and improvement of existing facilities as well as put in place their own security measures. In Article 3 Sec.5, Philippine authorities shall have access to the entire area of the “agreed locations but this will be subject to the “safety and security requirements” agreed upon by the parties. Based on this, PH access to the US operated facilities will still have to go through “safety and security requirements” set by the US.  The Philippines will retain ownership of all facilities, at least on paper. Agreed locations, including permanent facilities built by the US will be turned over to the PH once the US no longer uses them. There is the possibility that the US will be compensated for the improvements and construction that they will undertake. So yes, on paper we own these facilities but these will only be returned to us if the US no longer has use for them, and we also might have to pay the US some form of compensation.

 

  1.  The Philippines as weapons depot. The US will be allowed to preposition equipment in the “agreed locations” and facilities (Article IV, Sec.1). These prepositioned equipment and war materiel shall be for the exclusive use of the US. These include, but not limited to, supplies for humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Weapons and other possible hazardous materials may be among the items that can be stored in Philippines. The country will become a huge weapons depot, where Filipino troops become glorified security guards for the US forces and their equipment (Article VI, Sec 2). Surely this does nothing to help modernize the AFP.

 

  1. Our hands are tied. – Under Article XI, the PH cannot bring disputes arising from the agreement to any local or international court or third-party arbitration. All disputes will be settled exclusively through consultations by both parties. This effectively ties the hands of the Philippines and as a Atty. Sarah Arriola pointed out, grants immunity to US troops before the ICC. In cases such as environmental damage similar to the Tubbataha reef grounding of the USS Guardian, the EDCA does not provide guidelines for compensation (Article IX on the environment). Even in the event of the unintentional release of hazardous materials or waste, or an oil spill, the EDCA says the US will take action contain the hazard. However, the EDCA is silent on damages. (A side note, Article IX Sec.3 implies that the US will indeed be bringing in hazardous materials and hazardous waste into the country.)

 

  1. The EDCA gives almost the same treatment as regular US forces to private defense contractors.  Contractors can have “unimpeded access” to the “agreed locations” and to the prepositioned materiel and supplies (Article IV, Sec.4). US private contractors are notorious worldwide for their violations and for shielding the US government from accountability. EDCA will see a rise in the number of private contractors operating in the country. Article VIII Sec. 1 allows US forces to hire private contractors without restriction as to choice of contractor, supplier or person who provides materiel, supplies and services. These same private contractors are also tax-exempt when it comes to the use of utilities such as water and electricity.
  2. The agreement is in effect indefinitely. While Article XII Sec 4 says that the agreement is in effect initially for 10 years, “it shall continue in force automatically unless terminated by either Party.” Now given the indefinite nature of the agreement, and the rotational presence of US troops all over country, free of charge by the way, the EDCA is worse than the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

The EDCA is an affront to our sovereignty. It highlights our unequal relations with an imperialist power. The EDCA violates the 1987 constitution as it ensures permanent presence of US troops and the return of US bases under a broader, more flexible and more insidious arrangement and that this is done absent a treaty. As for the supposed benefits, nowhere in the agreement does it state how the AFP will actually modernize through the so-called joint exercises, rotational deployment of US troops and the prepositioning of weapons and materiel. Indeed, the benefits are close to nil. It is the US who stands to gain from the pact as it gets a stable foothold for power projection and military intervention in Southeast Asia.

 

Our duty is to fight this agreement, to fight the new US military occupation of our land.

 

Photo from Manila Bulletin


Reply to Questions from Renato Reyes, BAYAN  Secretary General

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

April 20, 2012

Renato Reyes (RR): I hope that you can answer briefly the following questions re China, Philippines and the assertion of national sovereignty. We have an all-leaders meeting this Saturday and we are trying to get views on how to deal with the issue of China’s incursions on Philippine  territory, the Aquino regime’s response and US intervention.

Jose Maria Sison (JMS):  First of all,  as a matter of principle, the Filipino people must assert their national sovereignty and Philippine territorial integrity over the issue of Spratlys (Kalayaan) and other islands, reefs and shoals which are well within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  According to the Philippine reactionary government, it  submitted on time to the UN the necessary scientific and technical grounds to define the Philippine 200-mile EEZ under UNCLOS.

The  UNCLOS is the strongest legal basis for the definition of the territorial sea and EEZ of the Philippine archipelago..  Also,  archaeological evidence shows that the islands, reefs  and shoals at issue have been  used by inhabitants of what is now the Philippines since prehistoric times. But the Philippine reactionary government muddles the issue and undermines its own position by making historical claims that date back only to a few decades ago when pseudo-admiral Cloma made formal claims to the Kalayaan group of islands.

Chinese historical claims since ancient times amount to an absurdity as this would be like Italy claiming as its sovereign possession all areas previously occupied by the Roman empire.  The name China Sea was invented by European cartographers and should not lead anyone to think that the entire sea belongs to China.  In the same vein, neither does the  entire Indian Ocean belong to India.

RR 1:  How do we view the incursions and aggressive behavior of China in territories claimed by the Philippines? Is this aggressiveness proof that China has imperialist ambitions and should be criticized as an imperialist power?  What is the relationship between China’s revisionist regime and its apparent desire to flex its muscles in the region?

JMS: The Filipino people and progressive forces must  oppose what may be deemed as incursions and what may appear as aggressive behavior of China with regard  to the territories belonging to the Philippines.  But so far China’s actions and actuations manifest assertiveness rather than outright military aggression. The Philippine reactionary government should desist from self-fulfilling its claim of China’s aggression by engaging in an anti-China scare campaign.

The Filipino people and progressive forces must consciously differentiate their position from that of the Aquino regime, its military subalterns and its Akbayan special agents who pretend to be super patriots against China but are in fact servile to the interests of US imperialism and are using the anti-China scare campaign to justify the escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines and US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.

At any rate, China must not violate Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity,  the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Code of Conduct it agreed to with the ASEAN.  The apparently aggressive or assertive acts and words of China are in consonance with its own premise of national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as with the bourgeois character of the Chinese state that may indicate an imperialist tendency or ambitions.

The Chinese state is blatantly a capitalist state.  Only occasionally does it  claim to be socialist so as to cover up its capitalist character as the revisionists in power systematically did in the past.  Whatever is its character, the Chinese state must not infringe or threaten to infringe Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. When it does, it opens itself to criticism and opposition by political and diplomatic action.

RR 2:  On the other hand, would criticism of China serve the US ploy of increasing its military presence in the region by supporting the claim that China is indeed a major threat to Philippine sovereignty?  Would such criticism serve to support the claim that China is indeed a major threat while obfuscating the US continuous undermining and violation of Philippine sovereignty? How important is it that the Left join in the assertion of Philippine sovereignty against incursions by China?

JMS:  Criticism and opposition to any actual incursion by China is consistent with the assertion of national sovereignty and does not serve the US ploy so long as we expose at the same time why and how the Aquino regime’s posture against alleged incursions by China are meant to serve US goals in the region.

We must be alert to and oppose the malicious efforts of the US and the Aquino regime to hype China as an imperialist aggressor in order to allow the No. 1 imperialist to further entrench itself militarily in the Philippines and realize its strategy of encircling China and enhancing its hegemony over East Asia and entire Asia-Pacific region.  You should take critical notice of the fact that the agents of US imperialism like Aquino, his military sidekicks and his Akbayan hangers-on are presenting themselves as superpatriots against China while they allow the US to increase  to increase the  presence of military forces and activities under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Balikatan exercises and various other pretexts.

It is a matter of principle to invoke national sovereignty and territorial integrity against China’s claims on certain islands, reefs and shoals that belong to the Philippines.  But we should expose and oppose the US and the Aquino regime for actively undertaking what are obviously anti-China provocations and propaganda aimed at justifying the escalation of US military intervention and further entrenchment of US forces in the Philippines, as part of the strategic scheme of the US to preserve and strengthen its hegemony over  the Asia-Pacific region, particularly East Asia.

Further, the US imperialists are increasing their pressure on China to privatize its state-owned enterprises, to restrain its  bourgeois nationalist impulses, to yield further to US economic and security dictates and to further promote the pro-US or pro-West bourgeois forces within China.  In comparison to the Philippines, China is a far larger country for imperialist exploitation and oppression.  Having more economic and political interests in China than in the Philippines, the US is using the Philippines as a staging base for actions aimed at  pressuring and influencing China rather than protecting the Philippines from China.

The US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty does not contain an automatic retaliation provision.  The  US has used this treaty as the basis for the Visiting Forces Agreement and for the escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines.  But in case of attack from any foreign power, the Philippines has no basis for expecting  or demanding automatic retaliation from the US.  The treaty allows the US to act strictly in its national interest and use its constitutional processes to bar the Philippines from demanding automatic retaliation against a third party that attacks the Philippines.

The US and China can always agree to cooperate in exploiting  the Philippines.  In fact, they have long been cooperating in exploiting the Philippines.  The  Chinese comprador big bourgeoisie in both the Philippines (Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and the like) and China (within the bureaucracy and outside) are trading and financial agents of the US and other imperialist powers.

RR 3:  The Aquino government has availed of diplomatic venues to resolve the dispute. Meanwhile, the Chinese incursions continue.  The Philippines is a weak country militarily and has no capability for securing its territory. What would be the requirements for the Philippines to be able to effectively assert its sovereignty (not limited of course to questions of territory)?  Briefly, how can the Philippines develop a credible external defense?

JMS: Rather than entertain hopes that the Aquino regime would defend Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Filipino people and progressive forces must resolutely and militantly  expose and oppose the puppetry,  shameless mendicancy  and  the hypocrisy of the regime in pretending to be for  national sovereignty and territorial integrity against China while inviting and welcoming increased US military intervention in the Philippines and using the country as a base for strengthening US hegemony in the Asia Pacific region.

Only the Filipino people and revolutionary forces can gain the capability to secure, control and defend their territory by  fighting for and achieving national and social liberation in the first place from US imperialist domination and from such reactionary regimes of the big compradors and landlords like the Aquino regime. Otherwise the US and their puppets will always be the bantay salakay at the expense of the people.

When the Filipino people and revolutionary forces come to power, they will certainly engage strongly among others in metal manufacturing, ship building and fishing in close connection with securing the Philippine territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.

They shall have internal political-military strength and socio-economic satisfaction. And they shall develop international solidarity and  use diplomatic action against any foreign power that violates Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.

At the moment, the US and Aquino regime are engaged in a calibrated anti-China propaganda campaign in order to  justify and allow the US to control the Philippines and East Asia militarily.  We are being subjected to an anti-China scare aimed at further strengthening the dominance of US imperialism and the domestic rule of its reactionary puppets like Aquino. Right now, we must give the highest priority to fighting these monsters.

The Filipino people and the progressive forces must complain to the entire world against any incursive act of China and at the same time against the maneuvers of the US and its Filipino puppets to use the anti-China campaign to further oppress and exploit the Filipino nation and people.  By the way, the Aquino regime blows hot and cold against China. In fact, it is vulnerable to China’s manipulation of Philippine exports to China like some semimanufactures and agricultural and mineral products.

When the Filipino people and revolutionary forces win, they shall be able to bring up through official  representatives  the issues concerning the UNCLOS to the UN General Assembly and the Hamburg-based International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.  They can encourage  the cooperation of  certain countries like Russia and Norway to avoid unwelcome impositions  from US, UK and Netherlands in the exploration and development of oil and gas in the areas of the Philippines.

Even at this time,  approaches  can be made to China to avoid confrontations and tensions over the territories that belong to the Philippines and to engage in  all-round cooperation for mutual benefit, especially for the  advance of national independence, the industrial development of the Philippines and the termination of the  extremely oppressive and exploitative US hegemony over East Asia, which victimizes both the Philippines and China.

RR 4: What approaches would you like the Philippines to make towards China? Were such approaches taken into account in the 2011 NDFP proposal to the Aquino regime for an alliance and truce? In this regard, what can the Left do in view of the rabid servility of the Aquino regime to the US.

JMS:  China has been known for its policy of dealing diplomatically solely with the state (rather than with the revolutionary forces) in any country  and  for its flexibility in considering the needs and demands of that state or country.  It is not as imposing and as aggressive as the US in diplomatic and economic relations with other countries.  It tries  to comply with what it professes, such as the principles of independence, non-interference, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.

Thus, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has proposed to the Aquino regime strategic alliance and truce in the context of peace negotiations.  It has challenged the Aquino regime to make a general declaration of common intent with the NDFP to assert national independence and end unequal treaties and agreements; expand democracy through empowerment of the workers and peasants; carry out national industrialization and land reform; foster a patriotic, scientific and pro-people culture; and  adopt an independent  foreign policy for world peace and development.

A key part of the NDFP proposal is for the Philippines to approach China and other countries for cooperation in the establishment of key industrial projects for the national industrialization of the country.  Certainly, it would be greatly beneficial for the Filipino people that the Philippines is industrialized and ceases to be merely an exporter of raw materials, semi-manufactures and migrant workers, mostly women.

But the US agents in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and in Akbayan and Aquino himself supplied information on the NDFP proposal to the US embassy and Washington.  They proceeded to cook up the anti-China scare campaign in order to undercut the proposal and serve US imperialist interests.  It would be absurd for BAYAN, Bayan Muna and MAKABAYAN to join  the rabidly pro-Aquino Akbayan or even compete with it in the anti-China scare campaign that draws away attention from US imperialism as well as justifies US military intervention and aggression in the Philippines and the whole of East Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

The people should know that the agents of US imperialism in the Aquino regime have used various malicious  and cruel tactics to block the road to a just peace.  The tactics  include the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killing of NDFP consultants in violation of JASIG and the continued imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners in violation of CARHRIHL.

RR 5: How would you describe the contradictions between the US and China? On one hand, the US is wary of the rise of China as a military power and has sought to encircle China, yet on the other hand, the US economy is closely linked to China’s. and China is said to be the biggest creditor of the US.

JMS: There is unity and struggle between two capitalist powers in the relationship between the US and China. The US is not yet really worried about China having the military strength that can be projected outside its borders.  It is more worried about China’s military strength being able to defend China, fend off US imperialist dictates and threats and combat separatist forces in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.

The US strategy of encirclement is calculated to keep China as a friendly partner in the exploitation of the Chinese and other peoples. The US and China have already more than three decades of being close partners in promoting and benefiting from the neoliberal policy of globalization.  The super-exploitation of the Chinese working people, China’s  trade surpluses and huge indebtedness of the US to China are matters well within the negotiable relations of two capitalist powers, which would rather go on taking advantage of the working people rather than go to war against each other.

The efforts of China to find its own sources of energy and raw materials and markets and fields of investment can be at times irritating or even infuriating to the US (when the conflicts of interest occur as in Iran, Sudan, Libya and Syria).  But the capitalist powers can settle their relations with each other at the expense of the working people and underdeveloped countries, until the crisis of the world capitalist system further worsens to the point that a number of capitalist powers accelerate their aggressiveness and even become fascist in their home grounds. ###

On April 19, activists aligned with the national democratic movement are expected to picket the Chinese embassy in the Philippines. Prior to this, militant and anti-imperialist groups have expressed strong opposition to China’s bullying in Scarborough Shoal. A resolution opposing China’s incursions has been filed by progressive partylist groups in the House of Representatives. China’s latest statements however show that it is adamant in asserting its questionable claims on Scarborough Shoal.

We oppose in no uncertain terms the incursions and aggressive behavior of China towards Philippine territory. The aggressive moves are the undeniable results of China’s bourgeois leadership who now appear to have imperialist ambitions in the region.

As a matter of principle, the Filipino people must assert Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity against all efforts to undermine them. In the same spirit, we staunchly oppose both the Aquino regime and the US when they use the dispute as justification for the expanded and increased presence of US troops in the Philippines. US intervention is also a violation of our national sovereignty. In fact, it is the US who has the worst track record in undermining Philippine sovereignty.

Meanwhile, we express solidarity with the oppressed peoples of China who are fighting China’s capitalist ruling class as well as US imperialist exploitation. At the end of the day, China’s bourgeois ruling elite and US imperialism, despite their contradictions, are united in advancing the interests of the capitalist class against the interests of the Chinese and Filipino oppressed classes.

As we fight efforts to undermine Philippine sovereignty on all fronts, we believe that both the Chinese and Filipino people share a common aspiration for genuine peace and development in the region.   Image