China to US: What ‘rules-based’ order?
> Fact check: None has had substantive evidence, and several were proven untrue (those declared dead or gassed were alive). But the US President Biden calls Putin a “killer”based on the allegations that Putin had killed or attempted to do so in different countries.
>The US finds it unimaginable that in Russia, Asia or the rest of the world, there is higher value given the practice of calm or ignoring rantings and still wishing the rival well at least in manners, just as martial arts people bow to each other before and after a fight that may be, in the agreed arena’s allotted time, a “no-holds-barred” fight.
> It is legitimate to raise Philippine issues of territory with China, but it is best to have a productive, fact-based approach, incrementally if needed.
China to US: What ‘rule-based’ order?
Mario Ferdinand Pasion
March 29, 2021
Biden comes out shooting at Russia, China and the Philippines all in the last two weeks. We no longer need to speculate how Biden will act at least in the short term. What is the US trying to do?
A chess game’s first move sets the tone of the game, but there is no telling what the tactic really is — just as a movie’s first scene can either divert from or lead to a predictable outcome as circumstances and characters unfold. Openings are always studied by good players. What are these aggressive opening moves by the US in the Russian, Chinese and Philippine chess boards?
Is Russia’s Putin a killer, as accused by Biden in an interview? He followed it up with “Russia will soon pay a price.” Some analysts attribute Biden’s hostility possibly to the suspicion that Russia had something to do with the expose that Biden’s son Hunter had been receiving payments from Ukraine’s oil company, and family business partners Bobulinski and Cooney coming out to show corporate communications to that effect.
The “killer” accusation is based on the allegations by the US that Putin and allies had killed or attempted to do so in different countries, although none has had substantive evidence, and several were proven untrue (those declared dead or gassed were alive). Critics of the US point out in return that the US doesn’t raise issues with its allies in their murders of reporters and scientists and even sells arms to them and assists in invasions.
Putin calmly replied that he wished Biden good health. Some Western writers even painted it as a “threat from a mafiosi.” Putin has offered to have a livestream chat about this. He pointed out that all nations have pasts, which should lead to self-assessment. Russia’s ambassador to the US was recalled for consultation about the future of relations.
Culture is in play here. The US finds it unimaginable that in Russia, Asia or the rest of the world, there is higher value given the practice of calm or ignoring rantings and still wishing the rival well at least in manners, just as martial arts people bow to each other before and after a fight that may be, in the agreed arena’s allotted time, a “no-holds-barred” fight. Of course, some force or persuasion is also applied, but there is regard for economy of emotion and respect.
Contrast that with the US’, where popular admiration is for “calling out” instead of restraint, “sass and kicking ass” rather than attempting resolution with greater calm, lesser cost, where possible. Biden’s Blinken and Sullivan are more dignified than Trump and Pompeo, but the team’s game attitude seems substantially the same strategy of aggression and blaming, at least for now.
The meeting of the two great powers in Anchorage, Alaska started with even more fireworks. The US side immediately asserted that it was discussing “from a position of strength” to assert the interests of the American people and their allies, not seeking conflict but to ensure that “everyone is following the same rules….” They raised questions of Hong Kong, oppression of minorities in Xinjiang, Taiwan and coercion of allies.
Tellingly, just the night before the summit, the US sanctioned several personalities of HK and China.
“What rules, set by who?” China’s Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi shot back, that the US has no right to speak about human rights given its invasions, toppling regimes and the treatment of black peoples, and that the US should know the situation of each ally and not defend them without knowing the actual circumstances. That sovereignty and core issues will not be compromised by China; the proper protocol and cooperation in this summit will benefit both sides and the world. “The American people are a great people but so are the Chinese people, have the Chinese not suffered enough in the past?”
Who is the boor? American media considered the Chinese as boorish for telling the US off in American soil and media, Chinese considered the Americans boors for inviting them halfway across the world to be talked to condescendingly, right at the start. Both sides accuse each other of playing to the media and their domestic constituents, although it is pointed out the US started the hot, if frank, assertions.
Temperatures went up further when the US asked all media to leave just as it became China’s turn to reply to the US’ second round of allegations. In the end, some Chinese media insisted to stay, but this removal of the media by the US is not reported or analyzed by most Western media, and this event has been cut out of almost all English language widely disseminated news or videos. Few Filipinos or non-Chinese are aware of this incident.
“Rules-Based?” The Chinese point out how can the US, after destroying much of the Middle East, be speaking for Chinese Muslims whose populations, employment and prosperity has grown? How can the US speak for HK democracy after supporting 99 years of absolute British dictatorship without even rights of assembly and having more onerous security laws?
How is preaching rules credible when the US set the Rules and Regulations for the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, Open Skies Treaty, Iran Nuclear Deal, Intermediate Missile Treaty, pushed the International Criminal the Court and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as basis for behavior, yet they were the country that withdrew support?
Both countries though went on to privately to discuss terrorism, climate change, nuclear proliferation, poverty reduction, crisis prevention, etc. Analyst Victor Gao considers the Anchorage meet as having achieved significant understanding and possible cooperation areas, and that despite major differences believes both sides will try to improve cooperation.
He also points out that oppression in Xinjiang, repeatedly alleged by the US, now by the European Union and Australia (and also being raised regularly by some Filipino “experts”) is a big lie easy to verify by visiting Xinjiang where the population of Uighurs has more than doubled and prosperity increased. He suggests that should US discuss genocide, American Indians should be part of the review, among others.
East West Institute’s Bruce McConnell points out that there were actually no surprises beyond the name calling. In fact, despite the dramatic opening, Russia and China and even the US are playing their main game of their national interests. Meanwhile, some elements in the Philippines don’t understand which board they are playing on, or at the least it appears they do not have the interests of the Filipino people as their goal.
Foreign interference in our elections? The new political party 1Sambayan is led by people who while accomplished professionals, are yet to show they can create something substantial for the Filipino’s health, economic or infrastructural enabling interests. Their main common interest is the American line of attack against President Duterte and China, without balancing the benefits both also deliver.
They never speak against the American support for issues against the Philippines like in Sabah, Philippine sovereignty in the military bases, jurisdiction in criminal cases, incursions, territorial definitions or involvement in foreign interference in Mindanao, etc. No questions of Vietnamese or Malaysian actual takeovers of territory. Their critiques are reserved for China.
It is legitimate to raise Philippine issues of territory with China, but it is best to have a productive, fact-based approach, incrementally if needed. Rather than constant attacks, mostly false or lacking perspective, stoking racist fear and hate-mongering. Facts and cases will be given in other articles. The same standards should be used by these groups in assessing other countries.
The Philippines should play the Philippines’ board, i.e., issue by issue, with practical, proven strategies. Not following either the US line or China line without question, but what is good for Filipinos over the long term.
Mario Ferdinand Pasion is a political analyst, director of Phil-Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Strategic Studies and the chairman of Nat-Fil (Nationalist Filipinos Against Foreign Intervention).
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