Southeast Asian Geopolitics
eastwind journals 105
By Bernie Lopez
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Permission granted for re-publication with credits.
China claims most of the 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square kms) of the South China Sea. Geography shows how dangerously China’s claims hug Vietnamese, Philippine, and Bornean shores. The tongue-shaped claim shown in the map below is ONE GIGANTIC INTRUSiON by China on all its southern neighbors, way beyond the 200-km exclusion zones. THESE BRAZEN UNILATERAL ANNEXATIONS ARE ACTUALLY AN ACT OF WAR. The victims are just too weak, afraid, not angry enough to react, or waiting for the Eagle to challenge the Dragon, which may or may not happen.

A Chinese vision of a military air-force-naval mega-base in Mabini Shoal. (Source
Map courtesy of Google Chrome
01 – A Mega-Base at the Heart of the Spratlys
The vast implications of a Chinese naval-air-force mega-base at the heart of the Spratlys are unimaginable. It is a long-term giant geopolitical leap. It will take China ten years and billions of dollars to build the 5-square-km base 600 kms from mainland China. But it is worth it for them. First, it will protect all their future oil rigs in the entire Paracels-Spratlys confluence. Second, they will achieve a vast reach of about 2,550 kms diameter, as far as the US base in Darwin, Australia. US bases in Diego Garcia, Darwin, and Guam are too far. Subic left the US with a military vacuum. In place is a single central Chinese mega-base at the core of Southeast Asia. This is why the US is drooling over the EDCA to fill in the vacuum. Will the US permit the Mabini base to rise? That is the $64,000 question.
02 – US-China Bases Eyeball to Eyeball
The proximity of two future bases are an ingredient to a sudden shooting war – the US naval base in Oyster Bay and the Chinese military base in Mabini Reef. An incident of sinking a boat or people getting killed can trigger a rapidly escalating war.
03 – Armed and Protected Oil Rigs
China will do anything to protect its oil rig east of the Paracels, proven by the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat straying in. They are paranoid, thinking there are surveillance and even armed ships posing as fishing boats. Future oil rigs will be armed and protected by Chinese naval forces coming from the Mabini Base, until they dominate the entire Paracels-Spratlys confluence, which is unacceptable to the entire ASEAN community.
04 – Energy Wars Inevitable
The chances of war are exarcerbated by despair for energy on the part of both US and China, within the energy zone inside the white dotted circles, considered the last major oil sources in the planet. Energy wars have started decades ago, as in Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Ukraine, and will continue to rapidly escalate in time. An energy war over the Paracels-Spratleys is inevitable.
05 – Is Mutual Defense a Myth?
The US is hesitant to engage China for unknown reasons. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, echoing Obama’s words, said “The U.S. is neutral and doesn’t take any side on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.” The US has resorted to verbal attacks and war games but no actions. This has encouraged China to practice brinkmanship, daring the US, sinking and water-spraying at will any and all fishing boats that stray close to its claimed areas. Based on the wars in Lybia, Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine, the US would rather covertly arm and support allies rather than overtly send troops or directly get involved. This is the trend in the Spratlys. Drone technology has negated the need for troops, which means less Americans and more non-American civilians killed. A sincere US-Philippine alliance is a myth. Present and future alliances will reek of vested interests on both sides.
This US stance make Asians think that the US acts only for its own interests, and cares little for its Asian allies. The unconstitutional EDCA, achieved by covert diplomacy using collaborators in Malacanang, is essentially for US interests, not Philippine, exploiting the fear of the Dragon to gain grounds for itself. The Spratlys is a minor agenda for the US, and is not covered by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. We do not know what the US will do if the Philippines gets into a shooting war with China based on the US promises of ‘Mutual Defense’. Filipinos may get disappointed for being dragged into a war with the big brother helping in the shadows.
06 – Getting US Arms Aid is Dangerous
The puny ships and arms the US has been giving and will give the Philippines will never be enough to face China’s naval might. They are thus dangerous because they serve only to encourage Filipinos to fight a one sided battle, resulting in more Filipino casualties without an assurance America will come to the rescue when push comes to shove. Filipino casualties may not be that important to the US. The US ‘arms donations’ cannot face up to China’s naval might.
07 – Is the US Unknowingly Pushing China into a Pre-emptive Strike
There is a vicious circle. The goal of the US is to ‘encircle’ China. The goal of China is to plan a pre-emptive strike against this encirclement. The fence sitters are the collateral damage. The Pentagon came up with its grand plan to invade China’s mainland – the Air/Sea Battle (ASB) and the Anti access/area denial (A2/AD), which have fuelled all the more China’s pre-emptive strike plans. Don’t corner a dog, remember? The situation is heading towards hair-trigger confrontation. The US ‘rebalancing’ plan hopes to bring 60% of its naval prowess into the Asia Pacific. This is phase 2 of a US-China confrontasi.. Phase 3 is when they see eye ball to eye ball from their bases, waiting for an incident similar to the sinking of the Vietnamese boat. Phase 2 is arms escalation. Phase 3 is a regional conventional war. Phase 4 is, heaven forbid, Armaggedon, a nuclear holocaust. Without knowing it, the US has been inviting a US-China nuclear confrontation with its myopic kick-ass tactics.
DISCLAIMER. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
“Why Borongan was Safe from Yolanda”
An old woman relates that, when Yolanda came, she saw three tsunami-sized waves from her balcony facing the ocean. She simply closed her eyes and prayed. When she opened her eyes, she saw the waves split and move to the sides, mimicking the parting of the waters in the Red Sea. The people of Borongan never knew about Yolanda. They felt strong winds, but discovered only much later that the rest of Samar and Leyte, especially Tacloban, were totally destroyed by the largest typhoon in Man’s history.
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Wings & Wanderlust by Bernie Lopez, an interesting book about traveling “for people in search of themselves, of spiritual renewal and transformation.” The book is available for purchase directly from the author at or text 0927-2394095. 
the day of the Lord
shall come like a thief in the night
when people proclaim peace
disaster strikes
like labor pains of a pregnant woman
there is no escape
but you are not in darkness
the thief cannot overtake you
you are children of the light
not of night or darkness
let us then not sleep like the rest
let us be alert and sober


Thessalonians 5:1-6
For those who need healing, visit
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