It’s been three weeks now since the start of the standoff with China at Scarborough Shoal, a group of mostly submerged rocks in the West Philippine Sea that the Philippines and China are claiming as part of their respective territories. While a diplomatic way out of the impasse is being sought, a complex signaling exercise involving the deployment and withdrawal of maritime vessels is also going on. What further complicates matters is that the standoff began just a few days before the start of the US-Philippine joint military exercises. The Philippines insists the two events are unrelated, but that is not how the situation looks from a geopolitical perspective.
You don’t pick a fight with someone bigger than you. But if you must defend yourself, you need to find an ally as big as he is, or get the backing of other small entities that may feel similarly threatened. Such support has its own costs. It may mean giving up certain things in return, or going against some cherished ideals. That is what realpolitik is about. It may seek cover behind principles, but, in essence, it is political conduct based on a clear calculation of long-term interests and a sober recognition of the pragmatics of power. Realpolitik applies to persons as well as to states.
“How are your Chinese lessons?” we asked our granddaughter Kristin, 8. “So-so,” replied this International School second-grader. “Why?”
“You and Kathie will need Mandarin,” we replied. Katarina, 5, is in kindergarten. Both grapple with Swedish, their mother’s language. Their playmates and nanny speak Cebuano.
“China will irresistibly shape our future,” writes Martin Jacques in the Observer. He updates his 2009 book “When China Rules the World” that foresaw Beijing’s economy overtaking that of the United States after 2020.
What Martin Jacques had outlined in his lecture is of great importance to us Filipinos who are caught in the big geopolitical power game between the US and China
Jacques narrated that even before the Western Financial Crisis Goldman Sachs had already projected that the Chinese economy will soon surpass that of the US and that in 2050 the Chinese economy will be double the size of that of the US.
Citing BNP Paribas projections, Jacques stated that the post-crisis date when China overtakes the US is now 2020. “China is going to change the world in two fundamental respects. First of all, it’s a huge developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, which has been growing for over 30 years at around 10 percent a year,” Jacques said.