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Are You Goin' to Scarborough Shoal?
Beijing Mulls Alternative Scarborough Settlement

Last week, when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his plan to keep the South China Sea’s disputed Scarborough Shoal off-limits to fishermen, China kept mum about whether it supported the proposal. Now it appears that Beijing has an alternative settlement in mind. Reuters:

China is considering a “wholesale” deal that will grant Philippine fishing vessels access to disputed Scarborough Shoal waters in the South China Sea, an influential Chinese academic and government adviser said on Friday, as relations between the two countries improve.

China has been thinking of means to grant Philippine fishing vessels access to the island’s waters since President Rodrigo Duterte visited Beijing in October, said Wu Shicun, head of government-run National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

“A wholesale bilateral fishing industry deal is still being discussed, an agreement has not yet been reached,” Wu said at a forum in Beijing.

At this stage, it is unclear exactly what such a “wholesale” deal would entail, but it seems that China wants to keep the shoal’s waters open to fishing. That is in line with earlier Chinese thinking: ahead of Duterte’s state visit to China, authorities hinted that they would be willing to grant Filipino fishermen access to the waters, and Chinese ships later pulled back from the shoal in a conciliatory gesture. But a bilateral fishing deal seemingly contradicts Duterte’s most recent proposal for a marine sanctuary implemented by unilateral executive order.

One obstacle to resolving the dispute is that neither side wants to lend legitimacy to the other’s claims of sovereignty. Hence Duterte’s attempt to resolve the issue by executive order, implying that the Philippines has full jurisdiction over the matter. China, meanwhile, appears to favor a bilateral settlement where it is the ultimate decider on the Philippines’ access to the shoal.

Will China and the Philippines be able to square this circle? Perhaps, and both sides certainly have an interest in putting the South China Sea dispute behind them, given Duterte’s promise to re-orient his foreign policy toward Beijing. Yet the conflicting signals coming from Beijing and Manila suggest that they are not yet on the same page, and speculation about a breakthrough may be premature.

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  • Dhako

    Again, you are tilting in make-believe windmill, my friends. In other words, despite your best effort to try to see if US can profit (or perhaps fish) from any alleged “troubled waters” between China and Philippines, the issue is as straightforward as it can be. And by that I mean, the Chinese side are more than happy to “accommodate” Philippine’s desire to have its fishers to earn their daily bread from this Scarborough waters. Furthermore, the Chinese are more than happy to “shelf” the sovereignty issue in regards to this Scarborough shoal and its waters. Moreover, president Duterte is also of the same mind, despite his need to keep his right-wing’s flank (particularly the American-influenced Military) in either quieter mood at worse; or in complete acceptance of his political “dalliance” with China, at best.

    Hence, he knows the deal he had already “struck” with China, and what he is trying to do is to basically bring that “deal” into a fruition. And, on that context, the Chinese are more than happy for Mr Duterte to say and do anything that will “purchase” him, a public acceptance of that deal from the average voter in Philippine. And that means, they will wait till he is clears the coast for this “deal” and they, both parties will get down to consummate this deal in its chapter and in verse.

    • JR

      Thanks for the Chinese perspective. Do you guys really see the world in such stark zero-sum terms? Seems a bit foolish.
      Your advise for Duterte to fool his countrymen while selling out his country to China seems a bit shortsighted however. Edifices built in lies have this things of disappearing. Just ask Obama about the future of Obamacare.

      • Dhako

        On the contrary, my friend. For I seriously think that the lies you speak of in here are actually what was build on the US’s alleged leadership of her friends and her partners. After all, it was Duterte who put the US on the spot and have asked whether US will come to its aid were China came to claim Scarborough Shoal. And of course, the US, who like to speak both sides of its mouth, had said nothing less than that we will let you know by that time. Hence, if I were Duterte, I would take that to mean, that he is on his own.

        Consequently, it’s bit rich to say the Chinese are selling a bit of scam to the Philippines, when in fact it was the US who were trying to keep on stringing along Mr Duterte’s Philippines without never allowing herself to come clean of how much these “far-east-natives” are worth to American’s blood and treasures.

        Moreover, at least for now Mr Duterte’s Philippines can now see how much they will get from China in-terms of investment and in-terms of verifiable economical support. Without being sold a pie-in-the-sky kind of “jam-tomorrow” which was what US have sold to the Philippines ever since that country was unfortunate enough to found itself its destiny being dictating by the US.

        Furthermore, the “zero-sum-terms” (you speak of in here) are essentially what the US have practice at other countries’s expense; particularly ever since the US find herself to be sole Super power after 1990’s dissolution of the Soviet Union. After all, you only have to ask what happened to Russia, in 1990s, when the IMF and the World Bank, egged on by the US (and were acting on the dictates of US’s treasury) have told the Russian’s state under that “ever-drunk” Mr Yeltsin, to sell and privatize everything that moves in Russia, even if that will impoverish the average Ivan in the street in Russia. And, of course, the deal had immeasurably enrich the US’s banks as well as few token Russian’s oligarchs.

        Also if you really like to see a genuine “zero-sum-term” in action, you would in turn have to return to the 1997 East Asian financial crisis (I am sure you may not remember that). And it was a time the US’s banks in the Wall Street, have send all sort of hot-money toward these fragile states as a “leverage debt”. And when the financial debt of these states went belly up, the US government, through the three infamous Treasury chaps, (Larry Summers, Bob Rubin, and Alan Greenspan) using the IMF, as a tool for its agenda, have forced these states to sell their assets to US’s banks. And pay these Wall-Street’s vulture capitalist on top dollar of every debt they come to collect.

        And incidentally, that was far more than what the local countries in east Asia and the Pacific-Rim could afford to pay back. And that in turn resulted to the point whereby some of these countries (like Thailand, and South-Korea) have had to resort in selling their “family silver” to pay back the American’s banks. And more glaringly insulting to these “debtor nations”, all of that was a bipartisan political understanding across the Belt-way, even if those countries have seen the US as their “political partners”, didn’t make a blind bit of difference. And all had to lose their financial shirts along the way, just to satisfy Wall Street’s demand that US’s government must extract every dollar these countries have borrowed from them, regardless how that was going to damage these fragile state’s economies, or increase their misery, as it had done to the likes of Indonesia.

        So, if I were you, my friend, I would acquaint myself with the action and the history of US’s leadership across the world. And if you were to do that, you will realize how US have perfected the art of “zero-Sum-term” of engagement against other weaker power. Even, if that very moment that others are being taken to the cleaners by the US’s diplomacy and by the acts of the US’s government, the US’s leadership will be minded, expensively, to speak so lofty of a talk along the lines of professing a brotherhood of “democratic states”, and ideas of “alliance partnership” between the US and those who have been fleeced at that moment. Hence, go sell the idea of US not being in the business of “zero-sum-game” where others are concern, in any other place where US’s self-serving agenda has some gullible takers.

        • JR

          Didn’t read it sorry. Dude, you got to learn to be more brief. Let me demonstrate.
          US bad; China good. I just summarized your entire existence into 4 words. Aim for something like that.

          • Dhako

            It’s pity you are this intellectually limited. But in a way, it explains why the likes of you see Trump as the hero of your destiny, since, like you, too much of a discourse do his head in, especially if it’s more than what a 150 characters of tweet can carry.

            Hence, to us in China, your limited intelligence and knowing the likes of you are the ones who voted for Mr Trump, clearly tells us that the US’s days as the leader of the world is coming to an end. And mind you, it couldn’t have happened to more deserving folks, indeed.

          • JR

            See, that’s more like this. that’s what I come for.
            First, you admitting you are Chinese propaganda bot. I appreciate that. IT feels good that we no longer have to lie to each other.
            Second, I think you are severely under-estimating President Trump. He is a nationalist and you might fund him to be a lot less of a pushover then what you have experienced recently. Only time will tell.
            And that’s one other thing Dhako. Time…. I’ve been hearing that America’s best days are behind her since early 70’s. Here we are, almost half a century later, still leading. The fact that people like you have to be employed, while great for you, is actually a sign of weakness, not strength. The danger of being a propagandist is that you start to think it is your job to believe your own propaganda. Just ask the New York Times. In reality, your job is to make your enemy believe your propaganda. Your self-congratulatory style only adds to my impression that you have lost your way.

          • ltlee1

            Looks like you are the one who sees the world in stark zero-sum term.
            Concerning the good cop, bad cop show over the SCS, the Chinese bad cop is laughing all the way to the bank. Thank you for the US government and the Western media.

          • JR

            I believe in non-zero solutions.

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