MANILA, Philippines – China thought the United States would overlook its reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea; well, it was wrong.
According to former ABC News Beijing Chito Sta. Romana, China—contrary to the strong front it has often put up—has found itself “in a bind” because it didn’t expect the US to have such a heavy response towards its activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Describing the Philippine tactic of calling in international help a success, Sta. Romana said China is left flustered and furious at its smaller neighbor for managing to bring the US into the conflict.
“The Chinese didn’t expect the US would react this way so they have certainly made a tactical, and possibly a strategic miscalculation,” Sta. Romana said.
A long-time journalist with an Emmy award to his name, Sta. Romana has lived in China for three decades and is a noted expert on its culture.
A student activist, he went into a self-imposed exile in Beijing starting in the 1970s and worked his way up before finally becoming the chief of the American Broadcasting Company’s news division in Beijing.
Among his notable feats are the covering of major news events such as the Tiananmen protests in 1989 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Tactic to Pre-empt International Ruling Has Backfired
Weighing in on China’s reclamation, Sta. Romana said the projects are meant to show the Philippines and other rival claimants in the area that no amount of international arbitration can stop it from reinforcing its sovereignty in the disputed areas.
China has refused to recognize a case filed by the Philippines before a UN tribunal, saying it will only negotiate on a bilateral basis.
However, Sta. Romana said China’s aggressive posturing has backfired judging by the amount of international condemnation it has received from the US and the global community.
“Their objective was just to undermine the case filed by the Philippines, and to scare in a sense the Philippines and Southeast Asia, but they have now touched on a nerve, a strategic nerve that affected the US,” he said.