小心一点 (Xiao xin yi dian) – Be a little bit careful, about what you’re saying. These words were reportedly presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s response to a commentary in a Chinese newspaper that the Philippines is orchestrating a plot to stir up tensions in the dispute over the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea. Of particular interests in this area of responsibility is Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, which has obviously put a sizable dent in Sino-Philippine relations.
[Photo courtesy News.com.au.]
Just for fun, why don’t we join Edwin Lacierda and throw a few words in Chinese around?
First one: 阿基诺三世总统失败了! (a ji nuo san shi zong tong shi bai le!) – President (Noynoy) Aquino the 3rd has been a failure!
In the name of “nationalism” or “protecting our national interests” or what have you, the government of our “dear leader” president Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) had somewhere along the way adopted a belligerent stance towards China. Mmm, not a very smart move, if you ask me. Crossing a nation that is on the rise to economic superpower status? Check. Crossing one of our biggest trading partners? Check!
Then again, diplomacy was never PNoy’s strong point; for two years in the spotlight he has shown no finesse in handling any opinion of displeasure towards his handling of various situations. He can’t handle his local critics, did we expect him to fare any better with international criticism, for example that sloppy handling of the Mendoza hostage case? Don’t expect the Chinese to forget that anytime soon.
Second phrase: 有时候沉默更好 (you shi hou chen mo geng hao) – Sometimes silence is better.
Not an easy thing for the likes of PNoy to grasp. Remember that especially for local politics he has shown inability in keeping his mouth shut. Let’s not forget the very reason that China got PO’ed again recently: because PNoy said he was considering requesting US spy planes to help monitor the West Philippine Sea.
That is exactly what got the Chinese government’s goat: that the Philippines has once again been trying to involve the United States in what is essentially a situation between the two countries. The Chinese don’t want to engage the US, and the US wants to remain neutral. We’re not helping the situation by playing the victim card and crying out for other Asian nations to assist in our case, either. The Philippines, however, the spoiled-brat nation that it is, immediately ran to hide behind Uncle Sam’s pants. “My Uncle Sam will make palo your pwet and silip-silip if you mess with me!” This is the message that PNoy is sending to Beijing whether he is aware of it or not.
While I agree that it’s high time we did naval and military upgrading, the question is: why only now when there’s a crisis staring us in the face, and why do it so…boorishly and loudly? Obviously PNoy should have known that saber-rattling towards an opponent who’s bigger, stronger, better-armed, and especially one you are economically dependent on, will not work. Besides, there’s such a thing as “secret re-armament”, but hey, it’s PNoy’s way or the highway, and we’re all on the highway…to hell.
By the way, PNoy sounded very confident that the US will give him what he wants. Keep in mind the official US stance is neutrality. They didn’t promise anything, therefore we shouldn’t get mad at them for not helping, much like we shouldn’t get mad at Jessica Sanchez for not singing the Philippine national anthem. We should be mad at PNoy for being so cocky and arrogant that we run a risk of being bombed to smithereens.
Third phrase: 菲律宾是笨蛋的国家！(fei lü bin shi ben dan de guo jia) – The Philippines is a country of idiots!
I don’t think we can get any clearer than this, can we? Why don’t we cite a few examples to illustrate our point?
First off, despite PNoy’s loud and clear message that he had considered asking for US spy planes, he denied it soon afterwards and quibbled on semantics. Ok fine, whatever. PNoy got caught with his foot in his mouth and his face in his ass and he expects people to believe him.
Secondly, too late the action, but apparently PNoy has asked to keep future government plans for the Scarborough scene secret. He only realized now that it was a big mistake to keep blabbing? Uhm, isn’t that what the government should have been doing long ago? He only realized now that the collective big mouth of Philippine media and his flunkies has gotten us in hot water more than once? Sigh, four more years of stupidity to go, I keep telling myself. Loose lips sink ships.
Third, the short-sighted thinking of certain Filipino citizens has yet presented another thing that could blow up the tension. I don’t know if they were thinking of that when they made their statements. I don’t know if Senator Gringo Honasan asking for a US military presence was a joke or not. The US does not want to get involved, and the China doesn’t want the US in it, what is so hard to understand about that?
If you ask me, the best role that the US or any other third party can play in this stand-off is mediator, meaning someone who can sponsor negotiation talks between the opposing parties. But asking the US to deploy ships? Whether we mean it to be or not, that’s an act of provocation we don’t need.
What exactly was Carlos Celdran thinking (and drinking) with that ridiculous stunt he pulled? Kiss our 98 million asses, China? Did he even consider that if this spreads among Chinese, they may take it sensitively? Did he even consider that many Pinoys are gullible enough to think that that was real? He even claims that he shouldn’t be given too much credit. Well, I think someone has to tell Mr. Celdran that one of the hardest skills to learn in life is knowing when to shut up, and he certainly didn’t do so there.
Interesting side note: the Chinese sound approximation for the Philippines is 菲律宾, fei lü bin. The first character means poor, the second means law, and the third refers to guest, so put them together, you get “poor law guest”, or “unruly guest”. I’m pretty sure that the Chinese didn’t mean it to come out that way, but it’s not too far off the mark to describe us as a people, is it?
In conclusion, the PNoy government has not really handled the situation with China very well. They already lost a lot of their lian 脸, face, with the Chinese government from the Mendoza hostage situation. Expect them to lose what little they have left here, because instead of seeking a diplomatic solution to this crisis, PNoy instead chose saber-rattling. Instead of working with China to keep this incident from attracting too much attention, PNoy sent the country running to Uncle Sam.
Now that dealing with the Philippines has become more trouble than it’s worth for both China and the US, we may just find ourselves one day with no allies and with a very eager China to level us to the ground, just because it can. Malacañang is indeed making it easier for Beijing to control all the leverage against us.
Perhaps the PNoy government should have taken its own advice to the Chinese newspaper, 小心一点 (Xiao xin yi dian) – be a little bit careful, about everything.