The Looming U.S.-China Naval Confrontation in the South China Sea By Bernie V. Lopez email@example.com / www.sisterraquel.com
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Filipinos are not helpless in dealing with giant forces in their own backyard. Filipinos cannot sit idly and just watch the giants wrestle, because they are the potential collateral damage in that looming naval war. Filipinos have the capability and the right to intervene and forge peace with diplomatic strategies in the name of survival. Filipinos can talk to the hawks and convert them into doves.
Reports, as far back as April 2018, revealed that China has setup electronic jamming equipment against warships and warplanes in most of its seven militarized reefs, virtually encompassing the entire South China Sea. US warplanes from the carrier USS Roosevelt on the way to the Philippines reported electronically jammed instruments. This is viewed by the U.S. as a forward preparation for a future naval confrontation, and a cause for grave concern.
Chinese Media reported that “US Growler electronic warplanes (flying over) the South China Sea were out of control for only a few seconds. All fighters withdrew. The U.S was at a loss as to why this happened. Finally, they mobilized reconnaissance satellites to discover that many electronic jamming devices appeared on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea.” (techart.com July 27, 2020 quoting Chinese media, see bibliography).
Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. intelligence reported a network of “radar and communications jamming equipment being installed on Beijing’s artificial South China Sea island fortresses.” Such a network in the 7 known militarized reefs are capable of paralyzing enemy warplanes and warships within the entire WPS, which is what worries the U.S.
In April 2018, Australian news reported two Chinese Xian-Y7 at Mischief (Panganiban) Reef. These are rapid deployment warplanes for both troops and munitions. China is super-sensitive to the presence of the USS Roosevelt Carrier. “The news comes amid reports that electronic warfare equipment recently installed on the islands were last week directed at disrupting the passage of the United States Navy’s aircraft carrier, the USS Roosevelt.” US pilots of the EA-18G Growler (an “electronic attack version of the F-18”) from the USS Roosevelt on the way to the Philippines reported that their instruments were ‘not working’ and were being electronically jammed.
Jamming is more dangerous than shooting because it invites rapid escalation and a US deadlier response if it feels helpless. For example, the U.S. may decide to take out some of these land-based jamming equipment if their warplanes and drones are downed consistently, inviting Chinese counter-response.
Philippine Peace Initiatives and Options
First, media must be vigilant in reporting WPS events, especially those which are leading to a naval confrontation. The relative absence of media reports, partly due to China’s censorhip, has resulted in China’s extensive militarization unknown to many. We need to monitor the WPS to give an early warning system to the Filipino people. The U.S. and the Philippines must exchange vital information as they happen.
Second, Congress and the Supreme Court (Legislative and Judicial branches) must formally endorse the De Hague court decision nullifying China’s claims in the WPS, even in the absence of the Executive Branch. This sends a clear message to the international community and the United Nations that the Filipino people stand by the international court decisions in the name of survival. This will pre-empt a naval confrontation with predicted heavy collateral damage on the Filipino people. Both sides will hopefully think twice to begin hostilities and respect Filipino sovereignty and U.N. protocols.
Third, Filipinos need to form an ‘International Lobby Group’ headed by an ‘Ambassador of Goodwill’, a ‘Peace Czar’, to get the international community and the United Nations actively on our side, especially the UN Security Council, which formulates policies to pre-empt wars and foster dialogues and negotiations. The lobby group must regularly send emissaries to Beijing to court peace. It must make an inventory of supportive nations, and augment it actively with continuous diplomatic initiatives.
Goodwill and prayers, not bullets, can foster peace. Benevolence and belligerence are both contagious, and can coexist. If we initiate goodwill without sacrificing our ability to be belligerent if stepped on, China will reciprocate and respect us. The same is true with the U.S. We can initiate dialogues to prevent escalation and retaliation. Clearly, our options as David facing two Goliaths is diplomacy, never bullets. And the stones for our slingshot are our peace initiatives.
Bernie V. Lopez Email – firstname.lastname@example.org / Blogsite – www.sisterraquel.com Facebook “Eastwind Journals” / “Bernie V. Lopez” Daily Tribune columnist / ex-Inquirer columnist / Healing ministry amdg
Bibliography Techart.com quoting Chinese Media – https://www.techarp.com/internet/us-navy-chinese-jamming/
News Corp Australia Network / news.com.au April 20, 2018. https://www.news.com.au/world/reports-china-has-sent-military-jets-to-mischief-reef-jammed-passing-us-aircraft-carrier/news-story/73215b4dd9412bc262b6a3854225830a)
Business Insider, April 19, 2018. // quoting Wall Street Journal and U.S. intelligence reports). https://www.businessinsider.com/china-jamming-us-navy-jets-off-aircraft-carriers-pacific-2018-4).