On the recent fraternizing between
Filipino and Vietnamese soldiers in Spratlys
Recently, Philippines and Vietnam staged a display of camaraderie with its troops played volleyball and football in a contested South China Sea archipelago, a landmark act of sports diplomacy that both sides said could ease territorial tensions. Both governments involved expressed a spirit of cooperation, regardless of its political inclination yet having the same aggressor that is, trying to claim the archipelago for oil and to some extent, marine poaching.
At first, it would been surprising for most Filipinos, knowing that Vietnam is also a Communist country just like its northern neighbor, poor and being denuded by "Agent Orange" during during the Vietnam War; one would even remember how members of the Philippine Contingent known as PHILCAG had to fight side by side with the then-South Vietnamese against the north and its VietCong allies. Only to be defeated by the Ho Chi Minh's people whose idea was to liberate Saigon from the US-sponsored puppets like Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu. VietCong is often the name some, if not most Filipinos think of when it comes to Vietnam, thanks to years of Cold War with Filipino participation in the American-led conflict.
However, with the late former President Ferdinand Marcos' trying to cultivate relations with communist countries and to show non-alignment, it also includes establishing relations with Vietnam in which former Deputy Foreign Minister Phan Hien and his retinue visited Manila in 1976. Bilaterial ties are somehow friendly from the start despite having claims on the contested Spratlys, both as members of ASEAN, having exchange students from respective universities in Manila and Hanoi, and Vietnam also even provided aid during last year's supertyphoon Yolanda, in which that said country was also affected by its strong wind, rain and flood outbreaks.
Also in recent times, Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of increasingly flexing its military muscle in the region, including the deployment of a Chinese oil rig to the north of the Spratlys. Vietnam had accused China of sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel last month near the oil rig; while Philippine authorities in Manila had investigated claims that China has begun a series of land reclamation projects on reefs within the archipelago, potentially to build an airstrip.
China, on the other hand, had reduced its socialist outlook as it entered the neoliberal sphere. Starting with Deng Xiaoping's policies lies just opening to other countries including those of United States, even resulted to unjust downsizing of enterprises resulting to unemployment as well as businessmen assuming as members of the "Communist party" and the National Peoples Congress. And as it emphasise its military capabilities so is its chauvinistic intentions, hence further diversions to supposed principles.
But after all, these three countries contesting on Spratlys been dwellth in neoliberalism with China and Vietnam trying to stimulate production and at the same time protecting their small and medium enterprises (especially those of Vietnam) while the Philippines failed to stimulate production, treating industrialization as rhetoric, instead of protecting, letting bigger companies pitting down small and medium enterprises in the name of intense competition till big companies, both oligarch and foreign owned absorbing them such as in case of Church-owned Monte de Piedad end controlled by Singapore's Keppel, and A.T Suaco under US-owned Wyeth decades ago.
People may still hardly to understand this issue citing ideological differences as its main reason. Vietnam is as same as China, being described by western and domestic media as Communist (and often equate Communism to Terrorism with a smattering, exaggerated idea as its basis) yet they open for foreign investment and joint enterprises especially with multinational companies, yet citing China's invasive actions towards both Philippines and Vietnam would say that it is necessary to strengthen relations regardless of political outlook and ideological inclination. From respecting existing treaties to up to soldiers fraternizing with songs and games in contested Spratlys, lies a potential amity capable of having a strong resistance than those of yesteryear's Corregidor, Bataan, and Cu Chi Tunnel.
Lately, as the two countries continue fraternizing, China denounced Vietnam and the Philippines on Monday for getting together on a disputed island in the South China Sea to play soccer and volleyball, calling it "a clumsy farce" and demanded both countries stop causing trouble. One, two, or three persons would somehow think how come their harmless fraternizing as provocative? What the hell is China doing when they're simply playing sports, singing songs and fraternizing as Asians? China may afford to brag their development, that foreign investors (even those of the United States and Europe) afford to invest in the country, that their "socialism" of Deng Xiaoping puts his nation forward despite giving up fundamentals for capitalist-oriented ventures, hence deviating from their revolution and be described social imperialist.
Even Filipino Communist José Maria Sison, expressed opposition to China's claim like uncle Ho's and Le Thuc Do's Vietnam. That statement coming from a Filipino Maoist somehow different from what mainstream mindsets think of that Communists are pro-Chinese or what, just because Mao is from China makes a Maoist pro-Chinese? How absurd and ill-understood to express those whom insist Filipino communists as pro-Chinese simply because they oppose American Imperialism without knowing they also oppose China's big power Chauvinism.
"Chinese historical claims since ancient times amount to an absurdity as this would be like Italy claiming as its sovereign possession all areas previously occupied by the Roman empire. The name China Sea was invented by European cartographers and should not lead anyone to think that the entire sea belongs to China. In the same vein, neither does the entire Indian Ocean belong to India."
Much more that the New Peoples Army had attacked a Chinese-controlled black sand mining venture in Cagayan, and a mining firm in Agusan. The growing trend of sinophobia would say that they turned a blind eye about these Maoists whom did punish those Chinese businessmen out of exploiting the environment and communities around those affected provinces simply because they are Maoists, while on the other hand seeing Vietnamese attacked Chinese-owned stalls in response to the intrusions made by China over contested Spratlys as a patriotic sentiment regardless of its political line.
Yet again, ironically Vietnam and China are both communists, and yet how come they fight? Well, as long as respective countries are being attacked by an aggressor it is necessary to join hand in hand against that aggressor, even the rebel has to fight for the homeland knowing that not just that aggressor is trying to claim what is his, but his resources being expoited while the system turns a blind eye in it.
After all, today's foreign relations deemphasised ideology and instead trying to appear as non partisan. China's expansionism is more of economic interest using historical claims, yet it has no relation with the left and its revolution. Again, people, with its cold war-esque mindsets may still find it hard to understand especially if your enemy is a leftist yet your ally, ironically, is a leftist.