THE Hague decision is our victory and ours alone. It is not a victory of other claimants.
We have nothing in common with them, not even geography. They are on the Asian mainland within spitting distance of an unstoppable Chinese army. While we are out here, surrounded by the stopping power of water, according to John Mearsheimer, author of the classic DETERRENCE, and the leading military strategist today. With this victory ours ceased to be claims; they became rights in international law. And as such they are binding even if not enforceable against everyone who signed up to UNCLOS like China did.
The U.S. did not. So it’s opinion is ignored. Indeed, the U.S. is a party only to that part of international law that is identical to its foreign policy of the moment.
China is starting to think the same way and may pull out of UNCLOS. Taiwan has taken China’s side in anticipation of its eventual absorption by China soon.
ASEAN on the Asian mainland may want to play the Philippine victory card in their talks with China. But judicial precedent holds little water in international law—unless it is backed up by force. And Ramos has suggested he may give up the Hague decision. Good. No force will back up ASEAN on the Asian mainland within 72 hours of a Chinese army.
Japan too has only claims. But thanks to our singular victory at the Hague we have rights.
This situation is unique to us, not least because it was not just the past administration that did it. The nation as a whole went along in taking the gamble that no other country dared to take—not even the United States. And that is to take China to court.
When we sit across the table with China, we shall look at China as the one that drew first blood when it took Mischief Reef and everything else that followed. But those were pinpricks.
China on the other hand will look at us as the one that drew second blood when we sued China. This alone resulted in a massive bloodletting of diplomatic credibility. When we won, it became a hemorrhage. So we cannot allow our victory at the Hague to be used for any other purpose but exclusively our own; nor for any other country or region or hemisphere for that matter.
This is ours. We paid brilliant lawyers handsomely to represent us and no one else. $5 million last count. We took the risk which we continue to face of infuriating China, the superpower that’s feared from East to West including Africa.
As Ramos takes his seat at the table, with Letty Shahani and Albert del Rosario behind him, all we can offer is the wisdom of Confucius who say, “It is only when mosquito land on one’s testicle does one realize that there are other ways to solve a problem than by violence.” That’s according to our leading China expert, architect Jun Palafox.