Dindo Donato


Dindo Donato

  • Realpolitik in the South China Sea; that "China never invaded any country is FALSE"
    CIA. Cropped and Flags added by Estarapapax. / Public domain

    Realpolitik in the South China Sea; that “China never invaded another country” is FALSE

    Before I discuss a realpolitik  solution to the worsening maritime dispute in the South China Sea, let me first dispel the notion that “China never invaded another country,” so that any exchange of views will be grounded on reality. 

    At the end of the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949) , when the communists gained control of the mainland , and the nationalists retreated to Taiwan , the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took Uyghur in 1949 , Eastern Kashmir in 1950 , and Tibet also in 1950 . These regions had long histories of self-rule, but the PLA forced their annexation anyway. 

    The civil war in China resulted in the establishment of two de facto states on opposite sides of the Taiwan Strait . The mainland adopted command economy , while the island embraced free-market economy . However, instead of accepting co-existence, like in North and South Korea  and East and West Germany , the mainland pursued a One-China policy , isolating the island from the rest of the world, and reserving its “right to use force” for reunification. 

    China also claims practically the entire South China Sea, with all the islands and waters covered by its Nine-Dash Line of demarcation , even without any historical evidence showing human settlements in the area. Surely, Chinese junk cargo ships that sailed only 5 knots , could not exercise jurisdiction over islands, islets, cays and reefs 800 miles away. The Austronesian karakoa outrigger warships from the much nearer Southeast Asian archipelago sailed much faster at 15 knots.

    In 1982, China along with the coastal states of Asean, signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) . Among others, UNCLOS established an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for coastal states . However, in violation of UNCLOS, the PLA by overwhelming force, constructed artificial islands and military installations right within the EEZ of the Philippines, i.e. Mischief Reef (1995).

    If this general information, based on publicly available sources, is not enough to dispel the notion that “China never invaded any country”, then the reader should just stop reading right here. There can be no fruitful exchange of views, if one proceeds from a false premise. 

    Long ago, China had Confucius, a philosopher and politician of 500 B.C. who espoused family values as bases for government, the “golden rule” of reciprocity , and the rule of law and uniformity . Its people built the Great Wall of China between the 7th BC to the 14th century to defend against foreign aggression. 

    Nowadays, China has a national hero in Mao Zedong , a political ideologue of the 20th century who espoused a command economy, and led China to rival the USSR for leadership of world communism  that sought global hegemony . The PLA also built a Great Wall of Sand, artificial islands with weapons systems installed, to enforce China’s contested claims to the entire South China Sea.

    Thus, the future of peace or war in the South China Sea will depend largely on which path China, and its Asean neighbors, will follow: Confucius or Mao. 

    If Confucius, all coastal states facing the South China Sea can be one big Asian family, governed by the rule of law – UNCLOS. 

    All claims to sovereignty over islands and sovereign rights over maritime resources, not covered by UNCLOS, will be shelved (but not withdrawn), in favor of joint exploration and development. Claimants can equitably share resources, technology, capital and revenues, based on proximity of the project site or other fair and reasonable basis. This applies not only to China, but to the other claimants as well, i.e. Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam. 

    With respect to sovereign rights over maritime resources covered by UNCLOS, this law will have to apply in determining the rightful state. Note that all claimant states are signatories of UNCLOS. For comity, the rightful state should then go beyond UNCLOS, and grant preference to other claimant states, to participate in any joint venture or collaboration that may be formed.

    For example, between China and the Philippines, the arrangement may be that China turns over to the Philippines the possession of artificial islands built inside the PH EEZ (i.e. Mischief Reef); the Philippines enters into a service contract with China (i.e. 60/40 sharing of revenues) to explore and develop energy resources inside the PH EEZ (i.e Reed Bank); the Philippines as rightful state assumes full control and security over all construction and operations; and the Philippines guarantees full respect of the revenue sharing with China.

    Another example, regarding fishing in the EEZ of a coastal state, the rightful state under UNCLOS assumes full control and regulation over all fishing activities. For comity, the rightful state should again go beyond UNCLOS, and provide preference to claimant states in the grant of fishing rights in its EEZ. If the grant of fishing rights to foreign entities is restricted by local laws, the rightful state should exert best efforts to amend such laws, or resort to other lawful arrangements to make it happen.

    If however China decides to follow Mao, or any Asean member state decides to follow his path, then it will be a dark future for the coastal states of South China Sea and beyond, which future I prefer not to write about for now.

    Atty. Dindo B. Donato
    General Counsel
    Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tan Dem), Inc.

    19 April 2020. Makati City, Philippines.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TanDem.

    Copyright: All intellectual property rights are granted to the public domain.

    Voice of America / Public domain

    [i] “Realpolitik (from German: real; "realistic", "practical", or "actual"; and Politik; "politics", German pronunciation: [ʁeˈaːlpoliˌtiːk]) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises.”
    [iii] Id.
    [iv] Id.
    [xxii] "Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself".
    [xxvi] Id.

  • Why we must support the battle against ABS-CBN - Carmen Pedrosa

    By Carmen Pedrosa

    My case about ABS-CBN is not about legalities.

    The government’s lawyers can tackle that but it needs public support. It is not just me but all those who want a more responsible media should support President Duterte’s bold move not to renew its franchise. It has been long enough that ABS-CBN had a franchise that was used for the political and economic interests of the Lopezes. It was the template of the oligarchic politics to give the masses low values and encourage ignorance.

    ABS-CBN is a partisan media to serve Lopez’s business interests. Other oligarchs have followed suit. The Lopez’s ABS-CBN use of media became the template for other oligarchs against the welfare of people. Have media, have power - quash institutions and regulatory bodies if necessary for their benefit.

    It accumulates so much power it destroys democracy and its fundamental tenet that sovereignty is for the people, by the people and of the people. It is the cause we must fight for.

    Duterte's campaign is to change the structure of our oligarchic society. It will be in vain if the ABS-CBN franchise is renewed and returned to such power.

    For all of us that should be the case against ABS-CBN. It is a purveyor of all that media should not be. If its franchise is renewed the Duterte’s program of reform will be in vain.

    The case against ABS-CBN is not about press freedom or extending its franchise. If we get into convoluted discussions about these, we miss the point. We are dealing with an entity that is inimical to a well-functioning society. This is the opportunity we should take to finally get rid of a hindrance to the progress of our country and the education of our masses.

    As I posted in my FB blog, Alfred McCoy in his book “The Anarchy of Families” the Lopezes are a rent-seeking family. From his wealth as a sugar baron the family patriarch Eugenio Lopez established formidable media assets among them ABS-CBN.

    "Using his formidable media assets, he defeated the country's president, Ferdinand Marcos, in a bitter battle over the spoils of power.' But unlike other presidents before him, Marcos was a different kettle of fish. Marcos declared martial law and destroyed Eugenio Lopez.

    More vividly than any other, the story of Eugenio Lopez illustrates the close connection between state power and private wealth in the Philippines. For over thirty years, Lopez had used presidential patronage to secure subsidized government financing and dominate state-regulated industries, thereby amassing the largest private fortune in the Philippines.”

    The theory of "rents" can help us explain some significant aspects of this complex relationship between Filipino elites and the Philippine state. As defined by James Buchanan, rents appear when the state uses regulation to restrict "freedom of entry" into the market. If these restrictions create a monopoly, the economic consequences aredecidedly negative-slowing growth and enriching a few favoured entrepreneurs. Competition for such monopolies, a political process called "rent seeking," can produce intense conflict.”
    presidency was passed on to her son, Noynoy. We were misled by the rhetoric of the “revolution” and reluctant to admit that we were once again fooled thanks to the power of the Lopez-owned media. We need only review ABN-CBN’s role in Noynoy’s campaign. This may have had the help of foreigners but we deserved it because we fell for this “freedom of the press” accusations they churned. But what could we have done with the power of Lopez media. Not much. It had the franchise and whatever they choose to do with it.

    From Marcos to Aquino, the Lopezes used the same template. It was through Cory as president that they got back all their assets and power. From the Marcos-Lopez it became Aquino-Lopez. We had been fooled that the EDSA people power revolution which made Cory Aquino president would bring change. Instead with the help of Lopez media her

    Whether we should extend its franchise is what we should focus on - the harm that ABS-CBN’s media power is capable of doing to our nation building.

    Those in the inner circle at the height of Lopez power heard its patriarch say “We can make and unmake” the president of the country. And they are right when they say it is family. Extend the franchise to the family and we will be back to square 1.

    I did work with another Lopez-owned media / the defunct Manila Chronicle as an underpaid reporter. I am not speculating, I knew first hand that the family used its media power against those that displeased them. As I have narrated in my book “The Verdict” it was not Imelda Marcos who pushed us to exile. It was the Lopezes. My husband, the late Ambassador Alberto Pedrosa was an executive of the Lopez-owned MERALCO. He was caught in a corporate struggle and ordered to go abroad. My family and I were crushed by the two warring sides. By the time martial law was declared we were out of the country. Ironically the Lopez bullying was what saved us from imprisonment.

    No matter. When we returned to the Philippines after a long exile, my daughter Veronica wanted to return home and see what it was like. She applied on her own to ABS-CBN. After a few months, she was sent to the CNN headquarters in Atlanta as a visiting broadcaster. Broadcasting with an international character was then in Ted Turner’s mind. They saw in Veronica a perfect candidate to recruit her for the opening of CNN International in Hongkong a Spanish name, a British background and accent but a Filipina. That’s it. They decided to hire her.

    But Veronica was reluctant to accept it offhand. She was working with ABS-CBN and came to Atlanta on their behest. It also paid her fare. She told them she would go home to formally resign and advise Gabby Lopez. Of course, he was flummoxed. Are you mad? Lopez said go if you want and added an insult “I don’t really know how good you are anyway, but I swear you will never find a job again in the Philippines.” (She now writes a column every Saturday in "From a Distance" Philippine STAR).

    Veronica left for CNN Atlanta, then to Hong Kong, the BBC in London and Al-Jazeera in Kuala Lumpur. CNN Atlanta did pay her fare to leave her job at ABS-CBN

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