The Hitleresque reclamation activities of China in the disputed territories in the South and East China Seas is causing a world wide concern. China gradually occupies every islets, reefs, and even rocks that are within its so-called nine dash line. With an immense potential for natural resources especially oil, the Spartly Islands in the South China Sea are treasure for whoever owns it. Countries in the said region such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and China both have maritime claims for the islands.
The Philippines and Vietnam both filed legal cases in the United Nations’ International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) at The Hague to challenge China’s “historical rights” to claim the disputed territories. But China seemed to gone too far in claiming the treasure islands, they already built several military bases on islands they didn’t own. They also prohibited local fishermen from Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines from fishing in their conquered territories. There have been incidents of altercation between the mighty Chinese Navy and unarmed fishermen. Whatever justifications China have behind these activities it definitely brings tension and poses a threat to the peace in the region.
As a Filipino this is a personal issue for me. But I didn’t wrote this article for my own personal interests. I am not only a citizen of the Philippines but also a citizen of this world. China’s unjust reclamation activities is not only a threat for the Philippines but for the whole world.
We should learn the lessons of our history. The gradual occupation of China in the Spratlys and Parcel Islands resembles the Nazi Germany’s occupation of its weak neighboring countries such as Austria and Czechoslovakia in the latter parts of the 1930s that eventually led us to the Second World War. However, we might have actually avoided that had the Big Powers(Britain, France, U.S.) did something to stop Adolf Hitler early. But instead of stopping him they chose to appease. On September 1938, still traumatized by the horrors of the Great War, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Premier Édouard Daladier met with the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini in a four-power summit in Munich to talk about Hitler’s desire to occupy the German speaking part of Czechoslovakia. They allowed Hitler to occupy “Sudetenland” in a belief that appeasement would bring “peace in our time”, but it was a great mistake. Chamberlain thought that the Munich Conference would satisfy Hitler and it will keep the peace in the world but Hitler seemed to be insatiable. A year after the Munich Conference, Hitlers army occupied the whole Czechoslovakia abrogating the Munich Conference and the rest was history.
We should not repeat the mistakes of the past especially what they did in Munich in 1938. We should not allow the illegitimate occupations of the disputed territories. But China is just too much for its South East Asian rivals. The World Powers should do something especially the United States against the threatening occupation of China in the disputed region. If there will be no one to stop China like what we did to Hitler’s Germany, we may put global security in jeopardy. However, we cannot force the U.S. or any country to intervene in these territorial conflicts. They also have their own responsibilities and problems inside their nation. As Neville Chamberlain said…
“However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbours, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in a war simply on her account.”
But he was wrong.
We may have our own national problems and interests but we all have a mutual responsibility to serve and protect the peace in the world.
“We would fight not for the political future of a distant city, rather for principles whose destruction would ruin the possibility of peace and security for the peoples of the earth.”
— Neville Chamberlain