China and the Philippines are now considering a series of resource-sharing agreements in the West Philippine Sea, the latest development in a diplomatic warming trend that has reset the disputed maritime area’s strategic calculus.
The initiative was made public during the late March visit of Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to Beijing, where he echoed President Rodrigo Duterte in hailing a “golden period” in Philippine-China relations.
The chief Filipino diplomat reiterated his country’s interest in ensuring the “South China Sea disputes will no longer block the development of bilateral ties” but rather “will be turned into a source of friendship and cooperation between our two countries.”
However here are brutal reasons not to trust China:
The Mischief Incident (1995)
It was Valentine’s Day 1995, and yet Philippine newspapers nationwide read, “Chinese takeover of Panganiban Reef feared.”
This after the Philippine Navy spotted eight Chinese ships and two concrete structures being built by the Chinese in Mischief Reef, also known as Panganiban Reef. The atoll where the encroachment happened is located 135 nautical miles west of Palawan in the South China Sea (now West Philippine Sea).
The story was enough to keep everyone on edge, prompting Manila to call for a National Security Council meeting and file an aide-mémoire, and then a diplomatic protest, against Beijing. The story became front page fare throughout much of the first half of the year and stoked anti-Chinese sentiments among many Filipinos.
The Scarborough Shoal (2012)
On April 8, 2012, a Philippine aircraft sighted a group of Chinese fishermen anchored in Scarborough Shoal with an attempt to put Chinese structures in the area. Manila immediately dispatched its largest naval frigate (recently acquired from Washington) to disrupt what it viewed as an illegal activity.
The Philippines’ BRP Gregorio del Pilar reached the shoal early on April 10. Armed sailors boarded and inspected the Chinese ships, but when the Filipinos disembarked to prepare to make arrests, the trawlers sent out a distress call to authorities in China’s Hainan Province. Two China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessels happened to be on a routine patrol nearby. They quickly arrived and took position just outside the narrow mouth of Scarborough Shoal’s lagoon. As night fell, the two sides settled into an uneasy standoff and as days went off, China had sent more military ships and militia fishermen in the shoal as to intimidate the Philippine authorities.
By May 21, nine Chinese cutters and over a dozen Chinese fishing trawlers faced off against the Philippines’ two vessels and until then China has put a de-facto control of the shoal.
Chinese ships harassing Filipino fishermen in Scarborough (2018)
GMA News was able to obtain a May 20 phone footage where two Chinese coast guard personnel can be seen going aboard a Filipino vessel and later on opening a container where the catch of the fishermen were stored.
In the video, the Chinese are taking away the catch of the Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal.
“Basta nahalungkat nila ang gusto nila, ilagay nila sa plastic, mga magaganda pa ang kunin nila (As soon as they see it, they will take what they want and put in on plastic. They even take the best ones),” Filipino fisherman Ernie Egana told GMA News.
Chinese drugs flooding the Philippines to undermine its economic growth
95% of all the illegal drugs circulating in the Philippines right now all came from China as reported by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
China sending financial and arms support to the CPP-NPA-NDF
The AFP through the years have confirmed their intelligence reports that China was sending financial and arms support to the communist rebels in the Philippines. A good sample of it is the arms shipment of 2,500 units of AK47’s & ammunitions that happened in Palanan, Isabela in 1972.