Influential blogger gives a powerful explaination, "Why China wants friendship?" - The Daily Sentry

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Influential blogger gives a powerful explaination, "Why China wants friendship?"

President Rodrigo Duterte and President Xi Jinping. Image credit to South China Morning post
China President Xi Jinping came to the Philippines for a state visit on November 20-21, after a Chinese president last visit in the country in 13 years.

Xi was welcomed by President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet officials to Malacanang Palace for state banquet and was able to visit Dr. Jose Rizal's monument in Luneta Park, to pay tribute right after he arrives from the airport.

China signed 29 deals of agreement

President Xi on Tuesday signed 29 deals during his visit, highlighting cooperation between the two countries under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Among the deals signed involves cooperation on oil and gas development,  referring to the disputed South China Sea.

A well known Duterte blogger and political analyst Sass Rogando Sasot wrote her explanation on why China wants friendship, not only to the Philippines but to other countries most especially in Southeast Asia since China is known to be the second largest economy in the world.

Sass Rogando Sasot. Image credit to Manila Bulletin
Sassot said, the reason why China is a friend pertaining exactly to professional friendship is because the gateway for all their products is the neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the  Philippines.

In her points of view, truly China is very economical to promote friendship with countries to both benefits in the market.

Read full post below:


Someone asked me, whether we can trust China. For a realist like me, that's the wrong question to ask. "Friendship" in a strategic context that involves States is not like the friendship in our everyday lives. In a strategic context, it's better to ask whether the benefit of taking a particular action outweighs its cost.

In this light, the right question to ask is whether it would be more beneficial rather than costly to China to have an amicable relationship with the Philippines.

The answer is Yes. Why? The key to answering that is knowing the CORE INTEREST of China. The core interest of China is to maintain the health of its economy. The Communist party was able to remain in power without serious calls for democratization because they are still able to continue to keep the economy prosperous. The health of the Chinese economy largely depends on the stability and security of the MARITIME TRADE ROUTES coming from and going to its ports.

If we are going to visualize that maritime trade route, the Indian Ocean would be its spine, while the South China Sea would be its throat.

Since there's NO government in the world that guarantees the security and stability of trade routes for everyone, each country is left alone to do that. So that's what China has been doing.

So what's its relevance to whether China can be trusted by the Philippines?

China is aware of the dangers of the "Thucydidean Trap." This refers to the pattern in world history in which the established power fears a rising power. This fear escalates into war either by the established power launching a war versus the rising power in order to stop its rise; or the rising power launching a war versus the established power to hasten its ascent.

It's not hard to imagine what Chinese strategic thinkers are seeing: To destroy China, one doesn't need to launch a war in its soil. The aggressor can just disturb or paralyse the maritime trade upon which China's economy depends.

As I see it, in light of protecting maritime trade routes, the most important countries in the South China Sea that the Chinese are thinking of are (in order of relative critical importance to China's core interest):

1. Singapore/Malaysia - because they control the chokepoint (Malacca Strait) between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea

2. Vietnam - because most of the trade traffic that comes and goes to China pass through the Vietnamese side of the South China Sea

3. Indonesia - controls the alternative choke points to the Malacca Strait (Sunda and Lombok Straits)

4. Philippines - 1) because the China-Australia trade utilizes the PH side of the South China Sea / passes through Sulu; and 2) closest ally of the United States and Japan.

Two countries that have an incentive in paralysing the trade route coming from and going to China are its regional rival Japan, and its regional/global rival the United States.

In the PH-CN relationship there are four scenarios:

A - PH seeks friendship, CN doesn't want to

B - PH seeks friendship, CN seeks friendship

C - PH doesn't want friendship, CN seeks friendship

D - Both PH-CN doesn't seek friendship

D is the most dangerous scenario.
C/A -- can easily become D
B is what we must strive for

First of all, I would like to clarify that FRIENDSHIP doesn't mean the absence of conflict. However, conflict in a context of friendship is different from conflict in the context of relationship among enemies.

Conflicts among friends are resolved by accepting that irreconcilable differences exist but the friendship among the parties are higher than these differences; or by winning each other over through mutually beneficial compromise.

Conflicts among enemies are resolved by defeating the other. No compromise.

D is the most dangerous scenario. Both see each other as an enemy to be destroyed. It's also a scenario that's the mostly costly to both China and the Philippines. It's a scenario that leads to war. This would be the situation ripe for a Franz Ferdinand moment snowballing into a full scale war.

We saw C during the previous administration. The Aquino administration fomented a war-prone mentality (seeing the other as an enemy to be destroyed) among Filipinos versus China. In the official transcript of the arbitration hearing, there was evidence that China was seeking to resolve the conflict amicably by rebuilding each other's trust. Then DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario rejected it. C scenario means stronger presence of the US in the South China Sea. Why? PH relies on US military might. Because of its weak military, PH has no choice but to depend on its alliance with the US. In this regard, since its the country that would be spending for PH defence vs China, US strategic interests takes precedence. To students of US foreign policy, US strategic interests includes making sure that there are no regional hegemons in strategic areas, such as East Asia and Middle East. Thus, PH becomes a pawn in US agenda of constraining the rise of China.

A will not happen as the Philippines is a critically important country to have a good relations with in relation to China's core interest.

B is what the Duterte-Xi Jinping administrations are doing right now.

It's in the best interest of China to keep the scenario at B because all other scenarios would entail trouble in the South China Sea. And consequently, trouble for the Chinese economy, which largely depends upon the stability and security of that maritime area.

So can the Chinese be trusted? Yes, if they still continue to perceive that friendship with our country is better than enmity. As I've demonstrated it, it's quite unlikely that the Chinese perceive enmity scenarios as more beneficial to them than scenarios of friendship.

So those who think China cannot be trusted, please make your strategic analysis transparent. Give us your evaluation of alternative scenarios."


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