Rumblings in South China Sea

Borrowing the words of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, China will go to war over the South China Sea. An elephant versus an ant?  In the biblical times, David won over the giant Goliath, but do we have to attempt?


Surely, we will take the words of the president that the Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened going to war over this issue. President Duterte is the best authority on this; after all, he is the president of this country. And he has no reason not to be clear on this impending nerve-racking scenario.

If so, the threat is unveiled; it is not just a simple rumbling but a fact of world politics. As a fast rising world power, militarily and economically, China will ensure that the whole of the China Sea will be its exclusive domain. After all, even the name indicates it is Chinese. The US and Russia have theirs.

Any president of this country will certainly find this issue very hard to handle. Aside from being very sensitive and security-laden, it also sends chilling effects on the Filipinos who are mostly pro-West or to be specific pro-American.

To us, President Duterte is threading a very thin line dividing what is truly a nationalist stance and what is pragmatic. If he goes too nationalistic, the giant China is coming --- and they will simply be unstoppable. Their 1.4 billion population can melt the Philippines, as the cliché goes, by just urinating on it. If he goes pragmatic by conceding that a war with China is unwinnable, he would not only offend or isolate the pro-West Filipinos but all those powers that are adversely affected by the sudden change of power equation in this part of the world.

Whatever decision the president makes on this issue will be criticized. But as president, after weighing all options, has to decide. The worst that any leader can do is not to decide, especially during critical times. Indecisive and cold-footed leaders are not real leaders. They are chickens.

But the fact of the matter is that the Philippines has virtually no other options in regard to this issue. As stated, going to war is not an option. Again, “War would mean a massacre of Filipinos”, again, borrowing the words of the president.  Staying silent and, as the song goes, “que sera sera” (whatever will be will be), is more damaging. Only the dumb and deaf has this option. Stay in the lap of the US and fight with it is like wishing for the stars. Most analysts said the US will not go to war over this matter.

What then is the best way to adopt under the current situation?

We don’t have ready answer to this. But in Islam, once the leader decides and the decision does not clearly contravene the teachings of Islam, Muslims are duty-bound to follow the decision, or at least, they will not criticize the leader for his decision. They should give him the benefit of the doubt and, more importantly, they should offer him whatever support possible.