It’s all in the name

For those who like to analyze diplomatese, this statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be interesting,

    “The United States has no territorial claims there and we do not take sides in disputes about territorial or maritime boundaries,” Clinton told foreign ministers gathered in Cambodia’s capital. “But we do have an interest in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce in the West Philippine Sea.”

Note that she used West Philippine Sea instead of South China Sea.

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • GabbyD

    “Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan and China’s ships and shipping rule the waves
    in our neck of the woods. Their shipping and their shipping lines rule
    the shipping lanes in North and S.E. Asia.Has any country or has China threatened to disrupt shipping around these areas? Off course not…”

    YES. omg. YES.

    • GabbyD

      by this i mean , there HAS been attempts to disrupt shipping in these areas. by god YES!

  • UPnnGrd

    Malakanyang may need to bring guLLOO back into the news  before questions get asked what Malakanyang will do if true the rumors tht China is sending a fleet of  boats into Pilipinas seas 

    China may get more and more aggressive what with Malakanyang not filing a protest about that China frigate on routine patrol 60 miles out of Palawan

  • nalyn548

    Eventually this will be a dispute on who best will develop the resources in the area of the South China Sea, Western commercial interests led by the U.S. or the Chinese dominated interests?

    • Manuelbuencamino

      It’s a little more complicated than that because we are talking about resources located in one of the most strategic sea lanes in the world. 

      • J_ag

        The South China sea -one of the most strategic sea lanes in the world. Since when? 

        South China sea is not the most strategic sea lane in the world.  Shipping coming into North Asia (S. Korea, Japan and China) from Europe and the Middle East can run through the Pacific side from the Strait of Malacca rather than go through the South China sea. Drilling for oil and gas will not hamper shipping in the South China sea. FYI there are shipments of goods that go through the Pacific side of the Philippines.  Depots and ports are being built on the eastern side of Luzon.  

        The hottest sea lanes in the world are the Strait of Hormuz and the Formosa Strait dividing China and Taiwan. That is where military forces stand eye to eye with all sides with their fingers on the trigger.   

        China is building ports and pipelines through Central Asia, Pakistan, Russia Myanmar and Thailand to bring the oil and gas to China.  The Middle East ships more oil to Asia today than to the West. 

        China is also building a railroad system to to link up with Central Asia and eventually Europe. 

        The old silk road will be linked by rail and pipelines…..

        The Philippines will be in this fight to benefit Shell, Exxon, Chevron, BP and Total. 

        The Philippines is still living under the myth that the country stands in a strategic place. 

        In this geo-political competition for resources we are nothing but observers.  

        • UPnnGrd

          Come on!!!   Don’t be so dismissive.

          “Not being top 10%”  does not make West Philippine Sea unimportant.   It’s not like Pilipinas is one of the West African countries

        • Manuelbuencamino


          “Shipping coming into North Asia (S. Korea, Japan and China) from Europe and the Middle East can run through the Pacific side from the Strait of Malacca rather than go through the South China sea. ”

          Of course shipping can run through the Pacific side. However the question is why don’t ships sail along that route? 

  • UPnnGrd

    Are you aware of China frigate bow number 560?

    Will Persi-Dente Noynoy ask DFA to file a diplomatic protest?????   China “bow number 560” ran aground on a shoal while doing routine patrol.  Routine patrol, China says.

    Routine Patrol!!!!  Just 60 miles away from Palawan.  Wow!!!!

  • Well, evidently you require an interpreter who speaks Americanese. What she really said was:

    “We don’t want no stinkin’ islands ourselves, but we will ply the seven seas as if we owned them, and if you mess with the Philippines you’ll find our drones up your ass.”

    • Exactly just as I thought, Joe, and quite reassuring if really that is true. I hope that reassuring statement will be followed through by the next US administration after the election.

      • It was no accident that she said “West Philippine Sea”. The next President ought to be Barak Obama, followed by Hillary Clinton. The Republicans have sold their souls to extremism.

        • J_ag

          America’s only hope left to maintain its reluctant empire is to play the military card. The Philippines will happily go along since it has no choice and will love to be the canon fodder. 

          Americas economic dominance held in place by having their currency as the premier reserve currency in the world has now entered the phase of decline. Americas system of capitalism has blown up and has exposed the obscene mismanagement of the worlds financial system.  

          This puts the world today in a very dangerous position.  A dying empire who may use its only credible force, its military, to impose a Pax Americana in our neck of the woods. 

          Whichever party wins the election will have to play hard against China. 

          The prolonged economic malaise in the U.S. will help consolidate forces against Americas perceived enemy no. 1 – China. 

          After the elections the gloves will come off vs Iran and China. 

          • Manuelbuencamino

            “America’s only hope left to maintain its reluctant empire is to play the military card.”
            What is a reluctant empire?

            “The Philippines will happily go along since it has no choice and will love to be the canon fodder.”

            Excuse me but the Philippines and not America is the principal actor in the Panatag and Kalayaan disputes. 

          • J_ag

            Essentially the British empire ended after the First world war. 

            The U.S. took over the mantle of the British Empire at the end of the Second world war.

            The old saying goes that he who has the gold rules. 
            At then end of the second world war the U.S. had the most gold reserves and had the worlds industrial capacity intact.  It also had the worlds best equipped military left standing. Russia had the other military force of any consequence. Today all the Russian have are their nuclear missiles and their oil and gas resources. 

            Hence it was the predominant power that set up the supranational institutions known as the U.N., the Bretton Woods twins and GATT. 

            Russia under Stalin led the other side on the coin till 1989. 

            After the fall of the Soviet Union the U.S. became the most powerful military force in the world. It has a presence in over 600 bases of all sizes on the planet. 

            The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest employer in the world. 

            It essentially polices the planet. 

             It is the ultimate provider of public goods on the planet. Military force and currency. 

            From 1945 till 1972 the gold backed dollar was the exclusive international reserve currency of the world. 

            The U.S. could no longer afford their huge military expenditures under a gold backed currency.  

            They shifted to fiat currency to enable the U.S. to continue to run budget and trade deficits. 

            The largest single individual lender to the U.S. government is the Federal Reserve and not China. It can create fiat currency at will. 

            After 1972 it shared this status with the Eurozone, Yen and oil as an asset class. 

            It has a tacit agreement with Saudi Arabia and to provide military protection in exchange for pricing oil in U.S. dollars. 

            If the Philippines is the principal actor in this dispute then why let Hilary do the talking with China.  

            Today the U.S. economy is being kept afloat by the federal reserve ( it created a lot of dollars from nothing) and the reserves of foreign governments and its borrowings from the social security and medicare fund of the American people. As of April this year we have lent $36 billion to Uncle Sam for with almost no interest charges in real terms. 

            This allows the U.S. to spend more than it earns. it helps fund their premier military force on the planet. 

            That makes the U.S. a supra state. 

            Hilary came to the ASEAN meeting to try to inflluence
            ASEAN for a multilateral solution. 

            China using their influence in the region had ASEAN reject this move. 

             My suggestion for you to tell PNoy’s government to sign a lend lease agreement with the U.S. for modern warships and jets in exchange for drilling rights.

            Also sign up with Blackwater or other U.S. based mercenary groups accredited by the U.S. DOD to operate in the South China sea with mostly Philippine private army personnel. U.S. military equipment with outsourced Philippine mercenaries. 

            The British Navy started out with privateers raiding Spanish ships and settlements.  

          • It is perhaps telling that China was pleased with the result at Asean. Discord. Your penultimate paragraph is superb advice.

          • UPnnGrd

            US State Department not always successful when it tries to influence ASEAN heads of state. Like when Washington  tried, but PersiNoynoy chose anyway to follow Beijing’s “instructions”/”request for Pilipipinas to boycott the Oslo Peace Prize  

          • J_ag

            China and Vietnam has already signed an agreement on how both countries would mange their dispute last year. They did this after both sides actually came to blows. 

            They would meet twice a year to discuss it. They would establish a hot line.  The Vietnamese operate on bilateral and multilateral levels. 

            Meanwhile we ran to the U.S. exclusively. 

            Foreign policy is based on power relations between countries. This also refers to agreements on trade, capital flows and labor mobility. 

            The EU and the USA agreed to China’s entry into the the WTO based on the proviso that they would not agree to give China market economy status. They have the heft to do so. 

            Meanwhile we sign on to the Chang Mai agreement with China, S. Korea and Japan to provide us with dollar liquidity in case of trouble. During the last Asian financial crisis Asia wanted to start its own Asian Monetary Fund. This idea was shut down by G-1.

            The U.S. is not a signatory to UNCLOS. China is and wants to discuss their dispute with the Philippines on a bilateral basis. 

            China, Japan and S. Korea have already signed agreements that their trade will be denominated in their own currencies. Australia is next to follow. 

            They want to start get out of the dollar hegemony imposed on the world.

            Tectonic shifts are starting to happen in the balance of power relations as economic power is moving to Asia.  Long term that will affect interest rates in the U.S. and their ability to borrow to fund their trade and budget deficits.

            Modern societies are run through the creation/supply of money to produce goods and services. Having a predominant position in the production of money for the worlds economy gives the country that produces it an exhorbitant privilege. 

            PR releases in the papers is not how you start discussions with China. 

            As far as ships passing through the Pacific side they already traverse the route and even the DOTC is pushing for more ports to be developed on that side of Luzon. 

            U.S. saw itself as the worlds leader vs. the Soviets during the Cold War. That has ended.However its military budgets keep getting bigger. They happen to be the only game in town. By default they became the worlds global policemen.

            They have military assets and logistics pre-positioned is many parts of the globe. . They can project their power all over the place. USSR broke up but NATO led by the expanding its role into Asia. 

            Today the American brand of capitalism is perceived to be the enemy that communism was. The political polarization within the political establishment of the U.S. due to the stagnant incomes of the broad middle class over the last 30 years is threatening the very foundation and ideals on which the country was founded. There are a large number of crazies elected to office in the U.S. Congress. 

            It is startling to see that here in these peaceful islands we seem to be isolated from all the stuff that is happening on the planet. 

          • Manuelbuencamino


            we are talking past each other. Perhaps you shuld start by explaining what you mean by reluctant empire.

            secondly, Vietnam is opening Cam Ranh Bay to the US and other navies.

            third, the pacific has been in use for centuries. But it is the long route. South China Sea is the short cut. It is a more direct route. Hence that’s why the entire world identifies the SCS as strategic. And that’s why singapore is such a busy port . It sits right smack in the Malacca Strait, one of the most vital shipping lanes in the world.

            Fourth, “Meanwhile we ran to the U.S. exclusively.”

            NO. We talk to the chinese at the same time that we talk  to Asean, the UN, our treaty allies, and whatever other multilateral body there is that can bring about a peaceful resolution to the problem. 

            Please, statements about the Phils running to the US exclusively are not based on facts that you can verify independently by simpky picking up a newspaper or accessing official documents. Like I said earlier, gather the facts before you begin an overarching analysis. 

          • UPnnGrd

            Malakanyng’s reaction to China-boat on patrol 60 miles out of Palawan — unbelievably weak.  NOT GOOD!

            Malkanyang saying “…PersiNoy says do not file diplomatic protest” because China frigate probably got lost…   this is weak.

          • J_ag

            Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan and China’s ships and shipping rule the waves in our neck of the woods. Their shipping and their shipping lines rule the shipping lanes in North and S.E. Asia. Their external trade is huge. More especially trade with the M.E. and Europe. They are the core economies in our part of Asia. 

            Has any country or has China threatened to disrupt shipping around these areas? Off course not…

            In the M.E. Iran has openly threatened to cause the blockage of the Strait of Hormuz. 

            So now the U.S. is wanting to insure the safe passage of shipping here in S.E. Asia? The problem around the Southern waters was piracy. None of the states around our neck of the woods has been disrupting shipping. 

            So what if Vietnam allows foreign military vessels from the U.S., India and Russia visit their ports? 

            The Philippines is the odd man out in ASEAN which was formerly organized as an group vs China during the Cold War. Those days are long gone. We are still living in the past. 

            Ever since the fall of the USSR and China’s opening up and embrace of markets the paradigm has shifted to economic competition. 

            The days of US domination or a singular country calling the shots in world is over.

            The Philippines will have to learn to resolve its own external issues on its own.

             Multilateralism had been used  to keep the major industrial economies on top as they wrote the rules and enforced the rules for themselves.  The history of Gatt- WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions are proof positive of this phenomena. 

            The U.N. is still largely impotent  as its five permanent members of the U.N Security Council vote for their own self advantage and refuse to expand their membership. The five being a throwback to the major winners of the last major war.  

            Preconceptions based on the West vs Communists ended in 1989.

            Institutions were built up during that period to pursue the struggle. 

            Today the threat are non-state actors that arose from failing and weak states that were in a large part the effects of the end of the Cold War. 

            The larger threat however is from the breakdown of economies around the world due to unfettered and unregulated finance capital. 

            The Philippines has been running balance of payment deficits for
            over half a century. For the last 8 years we have been running a surplus due mainly to foreign income from workers abroad and fund flows due to weakened economic conditions from major countries abroad looking for higher yields. We will continue to run trade deficits and budget deficits since we continue to be a net importer of capital. 

            Economic power begets political power and unfortunately we can not afford to be neutral since we cannot afford neutrality since it requires the ability to project political force. We started exporting labor when we did not have enough means to earn dollars to pay for our oil when the price tripled in 1972. 

            That hold true today. For most of the years when we achieved some form of political autonomy we spent almost 50 years in the intensive care of the Bretton Woods institutions. 

            Now you have the nerve to say that we do have an independent foreign  policy. The Philippines was since the Americans arrived over a hundred years ago was meant to be a fixed forward fire-base for American interests in Asia. 

            So what is wrong with that reality? 

          • Manuelbuencamino


            1. What is a reluctant empire?

            2. No country in the world is powerful enough to pursue an independent foreign policy. No such animal exists. Sure every country tries to pursue its national interest to the fullest but they do so knowing that there are limits and those limits are what prevents all countries from pursuing a truly independent foreign policy. 

          • Manuelbuencamino


            1. Thank you for the narrative about how the US became the most powerful economic and military power in the world but my question remains unanswered, what is a RELUCTANT empire?

            2. “If the Philippines is the principal actor in this dispute then why let Hilary do the talking with China.”

            The Philippines is concerned about territory. The US is concerned about freedom of navigation in the seas surrounding Philippine territory that China claims. So we speak from our perspective and Hillary speaks from the US perspective. 

            We have been talking to China about our territory. Hillary has been talking to China about freedom of navigation and settling ALL territorial disputes in the South China Sea  multilaterally rather than bilaterally.  The multilateral approach is the one favored by ALL claimant SEA countries and the US SUPPORTS that position. So the Philippines is not letting Hillary do the talking with China. Each of us, Philippine and US, are talking to China from our own interests. 

            3. “Hilary came to the ASEAN meeting to try to influence ASEAN for a multilateral solution.”

            No. ASEAN countries who have territorial disputes with China are aware that multilateral is better than a bilateral approach. For obvious reasons. 

            The US supports ASEAN’s desire for a multilateral approach because it is aware that a divide and rule approach by China would lead to it becoming the dominant power in the region and that would jeopardize America’s freedom of navigation in the area.

            “China using their influence in the region had ASEAN reject this move.”
            ASEAN did not reject the move. Cambodia did. It refused to include the issue in the joint statement. Since ASEAN operates on CONSENSUS rather than majority rule, one member country can block any statement or action by the entire organization.  

            A word of advice: Base your analysis on objective reality, do not mold reality to fit your preconceptions. 

  • This is rather remarkable. The US insists on referring to Myanmar by its former name of Burma and now has taken to calling the disputed area the West Philippine Sea rather than the South China sea. I wonder what further developments will happen.

  • UPnnGrd

    Listen well to USA Secretary of State  you human rights violators and kowtowers!!!