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Thread: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by ludahai View Post
    Well, if President Obama -- who has at times said the right things about this situation -- will get out there and actually call China out for what he said he would during the campaign, as well as speak out against China's aggression in the South China Sea, I would be behind him on it...

    The fact is that the U.S. is not seen as being as reliable an ally in this part of the world as in the past and President Obama is part (not all) of the reason for that...
    The real issue here is whether or not the United States is going to take on it's largest trading partner for the sake of the smaller Southeast Asian nations. Now, policy wise it may make sense to call China on behaving aggressively in an area that is recognized as intenational waters. However, until China actually fires upon another vessel or the like, I do not forsee any such confrontation. What people fail to recognize is that these relationships are all about money, and until China's actions make going against them more profitable than minding our own business, that is what we will do.

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by tlmorg02 View Post
    The real issue here is whether or not the United States is going to take on it's largest trading partner for the sake of the smaller Southeast Asian nations. Now, policy wise it may make sense to call China on behaving aggressively in an area that is recognized as intenational waters. However, until China actually fires upon another vessel or the like, I do not forsee any such confrontation. What people fail to recognize is that these relationships are all about money, and until China's actions make going against them more profitable than minding our own business, that is what we will do.
    I believe that the U.S. should privately communicate with China a clear position of its interests in the South China Sea, its commitments to its allies, and its view that a reasonable South China framework would have to accommodate the needs of all the bordering states, including but not limited to China. It should convey that the sooner a reasonable accommodation is achieved, the less likely miscalculations would be. China's neighbors have genuine concerns about China's intentions in the context of China's growing regional power. If things get out of hand, China and its neighbors could all be worse off.

    Moreover, not all of China's ambitions are about money or economics. The Taiwan issue is one that China considers more important than economic considerations. It has made clear on various occasions that its response to a formal assertion of independence by Taiwan would lead to military action and that its definition of its national interest would take precedence over economic considerations. Given China's history, I don't believe China is bluffing.

    Finally, China may well be viewing the South China Sea through the prism of the historic maximum extent of its empire. The context of that situation was vastly different from today's context. China was able to exert regional preeminence at that time due to a combination of its own power, how is neighbors viewed it, and the neighboring entities' lack of capacity to exert independence from China's influence. Today, there are well-organized, independent sovereign states with their own distinct interests. Accommodation is the more viable approach, if confrontation is to be avoided and mutual benefit maximized.
    Last edited by donsutherland1; 06-15-11 at 12:20 PM.

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiseone View Post
    I don't understand what you are getting at, are you making a point? Should Obama have changed every single thing, including policies I assume you support because they help keep China at bay? I hate to ask but is a no win situation for Obama? Should he have changed it and thus gotten your ire for changing a good policy, or not changed it and gotten your ire for, in your eyes, breaking a campaign slogan?



    O I thought you were talking about something in important, not meaningless trivia.
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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I believe that the U.S. should privately communicate with China a clear position of its interests in the South China Sea, its commitments to its allies, and its view that a reasonable South China framework would have to accommodate the needs of all the bordering states, including but not limited to China. It should convey that the sooner a reasonable accommodation is achieved, the less likely miscalculations would be. China's neighbors have genuine concerns about China's intentions in the context of China's growing regional power. If things get out of hand, China and its neighbors could all be worse off.

    Moreover, not all of China's ambitions are about money or economics. The Taiwan issue is one that China considers more important than economic considerations. It has made clear on various occasions that its response to a formal assertion of independence by Taiwan would lead to military action and that its definition of its national interest would take precedence over economic considerations. Given China's history, I don't believe China is bluffing.

    Finally, China may well be viewing the South China Sea through the prism of the historic maximum extent of its empire. The context of that situation was vastly different from today's context. China was able to exert regional preeminence at that time due to a combination of its own power, how is neighbors viewed it, and the neighboring entities' lack of capacity to exert independence from China's influence. Today, there are well-organized, independent sovereign states with their own distinct interests. Accommodation is the more viable approach, if confrontation is to be avoided and mutual benefit maximized.
    I do not doubt at all China's seriousness when it comes to the Taiwan issue. However, the US has continued to arm Taiwan and China continually denounces it, yet things remain the same. One must remember that the Chinese governments biggest fear is any type of instability within their borders, and the propoganda ministry takes great pains at balancing nationalist sentiments against the US, Japan and Taiwan.

    If the people are looking too favorably upon the US, Japan, or Taiwan the national media will begin to circulate stories that will cause an increase in ire against any or all of the three nations. Yet the government must indeed be careful to avoid the people demanding some type of military action against the US, Japan, or Taiwan. The government knows that if a scenario arose they would be forced into actual war else face appearing impotent and weak which would not bode well for the governing body.

    The US may indeed put pressure on China to rein in their activity in the South China Sea, yet China is very much aware of the delicate balance that must be struck there. The Chinese are doing what they have done for the last 40 years and that is flexing muscles in the region. I do not think they will actually carryout any direct military action in the region against any neighbor. The only way I see China ever putting nationalist interests above economic is in the case of Taiwan declaring formal independence.

    Now, over the past decade China and Taiwan have greatly improved relations, with there now even being flights between the two, and the two populations are becoming ever more sympathetic towards eachother, even though any declaration would certainly cause war.

    In the end though all one needs to know about the Beijing government is that they want at all costs to avoid looking unable to control their naition and unable to lead successfully. If they go into all out war with the US or even their neighbors, the economic downfall alone may very well create unstability within the nation leading to mass uprisings. Thus, there is a delicate balance there and as long as the US and it's allies realize how to use this balance to their advantage, I do not see any dire threats coming down the pike.

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by tlmorg02 View Post
    The US may indeed put pressure on China to rein in their activity in the South China Sea, yet China is very much aware of the delicate balance that must be struck there. The Chinese are doing what they have done for the last 40 years and that is flexing muscles in the region. I do not think they will actually carryout any direct military action in the region against any neighbor. The only way I see China ever putting nationalist interests above economic is in the case of Taiwan declaring formal independence.
    We don't disagree on China's likely response were Taiwan to assert independence. In terms of the South China Sea, the changed ingredient is China's rising regional power. In that context, China's actions are viewed more warily by its neighbors. Left unmanaged, the risk of a dangerous miscalculation and mutually disadvantageous consequences will increase.

    This is exactly the kind of situation that calls for proactive diplomacy. To minimize acting in a fashion that China would find offensive or worse, the diplomacy needs to be conducted privately. The previous U.S. offer to help mediate the growing dispute in the South China Sea was made publicly and China reacted harshly. It viewed the offer as merely an attempt by outsiders to dictate a solution. Unless China's sensitivies are dealt with, even well-intended diplomatic initiatives could backfire.

    Having said all that, the U.S. does need to clearly articulate its interests and reaffirm its commitments to China. The United States' reactive, ad hoc response to Mideast events may well have suggested that U.S. commitments are limited. After all, the U.S. actively turned on a long-time dependable ally in Egypt, appeared poised to sacrifice the friendly government in Bahrain even as Bahrain hosted the largest U.S. naval base in the region and those arrayed against it enjoyed at least the public support of Iran, and even squeezed Israel beyond what any previous Administration had done despite its being a highly visible strategic ally. The combination of China's growing power and signals of limits to U.S. commitments might well have created an incentive for China to "test" things in the South China Sea. Continuing U.S. ambiguity could lead to further tests and, over time, a growing risk of miscalculation.

    As I have stated in the past, I do not believe the U.S.-China relationship needs to evolve into a confrontational one. The path it takes will depend on the decisions and choices made both in China and the U.S. in coming years and beyond. In that context, it is crucial that China fully understand U.S. interests and know that the U.S. will not abandon its commitments to its regional allies. The U.S. also has to fully understand China's interests and needs. Once the constraints are readily understood on both sides of the Pacific, the bilateral relationship could then focus on the broad common ground that could yield enormous benefits to the U.S., China, and China's neighbors. Regional stability has provided vast benefits to all the countries. Proactive diplomacy would be an investment in sustaining that beneficial stability.

  6. #26
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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    We don't disagree on China's likely response were Taiwan to assert independence. In terms of the South China Sea, the changed ingredient is China's rising regional power. In that context, China's actions are viewed more warily by its neighbors. Left unmanaged, the risk of a dangerous miscalculation and mutually disadvantageous consequences will increase.

    This is exactly the kind of situation that calls for proactive diplomacy. To minimize acting in a fashion that China would find offensive or worse, the diplomacy needs to be conducted privately. The previous U.S. offer to help mediate the growing dispute in the South China Sea was made publicly and China reacted harshly. It viewed the offer as merely an attempt by outsiders to dictate a solution. Unless China's sensitivies are dealt with, even well-intended diplomatic initiatives could backfire.

    Having said all that, the U.S. does need to clearly articulate its interests and reaffirm its commitments to China. The United States' reactive, ad hoc response to Mideast events may well have suggested that U.S. commitments are limited. After all, the U.S. actively turned on a long-time dependable ally in Egypt, appeared poised to sacrifice the friendly government in Bahrain even as Bahrain hosted the largest U.S. naval base in the region and those arrayed against it enjoyed at least the public support of Iran, and even squeezed Israel beyond what any previous Administration had done despite its being a highly visible strategic ally. The combination of China's growing power and signals of limits to U.S. commitments might well have created an incentive for China to "test" things in the South China Sea. Continuing U.S. ambiguity could lead to further tests and, over time, a growing risk of miscalculation.

    As I have stated in the past, I do not believe the U.S.-China relationship needs to evolve into a confrontational one. The path it takes will depend on the decisions and choices made both in China and the U.S. in coming years and beyond. In that context, it is crucial that China fully understand U.S. interests and know that the U.S. will not abandon its commitments to its regional allies. The U.S. also has to fully understand China's interests and needs. Once the constraints are readily understood on both sides of the Pacific, the bilateral relationship could then focus on the broad common ground that could yield enormous benefits to the U.S., China, and China's neighbors. Regional stability has provided vast benefits to all the countries. Proactive diplomacy would be an investment in sustaining that beneficial stability.
    Agreed, your assertion of "private" diplomatic resolution on the matter coincides with China's need to remain powerful in the eyes of it's people. Problems will arise though if such talks are leaked and the media portrays China as backing down or something of the sort over US pressure.

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by tlmorg02 View Post
    Agreed, your assertion of "private" diplomatic resolution on the matter coincides with China's need to remain powerful in the eyes of it's people. Problems will arise though if such talks are leaked and the media portrays China as backing down or something of the sort over US pressure.
    My guess is that if the diplomatic discussions were held in Beijing, one would not have to worry about media leaks. Given the sensitivity of the diplomacy, I believe that's where talks should be held so as to minimize leaks. Moreover, I believe there are creative proposals that could be introduced that would expand the incentives for the parties to accommodate one another, transcend territorial frictions, and produce mutual benefits for China and its neighbors.

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    My guess is that if the diplomatic discussions were held in Beijing, one would not have to worry about media leaks. Given the sensitivity of the diplomacy, I believe that's where talks should be held so as to minimize leaks. Moreover, I believe there are creative proposals that could be introduced that would expand the incentives for the parties to accommodate one another, transcend territorial frictions, and produce mutual benefits for China and its neighbors.
    It will certainly benefit China and its neighbors diplomatically. However, as I and many have predicted, as energy usage rises in the developing nations, the most likely cause of war among Eastern nations and perhaps a cause for WWIII would indeed be energy resources. China may not be so willing to accomodate its neighbors when it comes to securing its growing oil needs. Especially if it considers the sea part of its historic territory.

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by tlmorg02 View Post
    It will certainly benefit China and its neighbors diplomatically. However, as I and many have predicted, as energy usage rises in the developing nations, the most likely cause of war among Eastern nations and perhaps a cause for WWIII would indeed be energy resources. China may not be so willing to accomodate its neighbors when it comes to securing its growing oil needs. Especially if it considers the sea part of its historic territory.
    I agree. Unfortunately, in what has become a longstanding bipartisan tradition, the U.S. still lacks a credible and coherent energy policy. Ambitious political rhetoric notwithstanding (usually around the election cycle), no such policy is present.

    I believe that the chronic absence of such a policy has already reduced the United States' strategic flexibility and increased its vulnerability to energy shocks. In the long-run, the risks will mount. At a minimum, I expect resource nationalism to grow more commonplace. At worst, there could be conflicts over resources.

    Hence, at least in my view, the continuing absence of such an energy policy is really quite incomprehensible. It is an extraordinary evasion of political responsibility. Nonetheless, given the bipartisan commitment to the status quo, I expect no significant changes anytime soon (aggressive investments/policies/outcomes).

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    Re: Philippines protests to China over oil rig plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Erod View Post
    It's funny how "Harvard Law Graduate" has morphed from meaning a top-tier attorney into a dysfunctional liberal loon. But it has, and it is.
    The funny thing is President Ma (Taiwan's president and a Harvard Law grad) is not a lawyer, has never practiced law and hasn't even passed the local bar exam. If memory serves, Obama didn't practice law either, though I don't know if he passed the bar or not...
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