WE have an ambassador like this?
Jose Cuisia, our ambassador to the US during the Aquino 3rd regime, said in a television interview the other day that the Chinese had agreed to leave Scarborough Shoal in June 2012 together with Philippine vessels.
How did he know that? Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for Asia, had told him so.
Did he ask any Chinese official to confirm what the American official said? No.
This was our ambassador to the US, chairman or CEO of this and that American-affiliated companies even when he held that post? I hope he wasn’t sold the Lincoln Memorial while he was at D. C.
Cuisia said he relayed this information to then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who then informed Aquino. Despite his doubts over such an agreement, Aquino ordered the Philippine vessels to leave, according to Cuisia. (Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th’s version is that it was del Rosario who gave such orders.)
But the Chinese didn’t, which put the shoal under their control. The country lost its first territory, after Sabah, forever, as it were.
“Duplicitous itong mga Instik,” Cuisia had the gall to say on TV. But he never talked to the Chinese, only to a US State Department official of China’s competitor, even arch enemy, the United States of America, whose wily tricks to dominate the world have been legendary. (Remember Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction” that he said Saddam had?)
It didn’t occur in Cuisia’s mind that Campbell, one of the strategists of the US containment program against China that he’s been called “Mr. Pivot,” may have been lying, or simply misinterpreted the words of China Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying who had supposedly agreed to a withdrawal.
My suspicion is that Campbell deliberately fooled the gullible Cuisia as the Philippines’ loss of the shoal would not only add to the US portrayal of China as an aggressor in the South China Sea. It would also trigger outrage in the country, prompting Aquino to finally file the arbitration suit it had been planning since 2011 and which the US had been pushing.
Campbell was appointed by President Biden last January as his National Security Council coordinator for the Indo-Pacific. He wasn’t appointed to that post for nothing. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it was his reward for engineering the Philippines’ loss of Scarborough to China in 2012, which pushed the Aquino regime to file the arbitration case against China seven months later.
This was our ambassador to the world’s most powerful nation? Take your pick: Cuisia was either too naive and gullible to be a diplomat, plain stupid, or too ignorant of China-US relations.
If China reneged on an agreement, Campbell would have certainly broadcast that to the world, as this bolsters the US propaganda that China is a duplicitous power plotting to control by whatever means the entire South China Sea. Campbell left government service in February 2013 but said not a word about such an “agreement.”
In his 2016 book, The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia, the only mention he made of that episode which had far-reaching consequences in the South China Sea was a single sentence: “The Philippines’ ten-week standoff with China ultimately resulted in its loss of the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by both countries.” He didn’t blame China at all.
Not even the US government has gone on record to claim that the Chinese reneged on an agreement to leave Scarborough Shoal simultaneously with the Philippines.
If the US State Department could not officially claim that there was an agreement, wouldn’t it do what it often does, which is to leak it to its media especially its usual venues The New York Times or the Washington Post? No such leak at all.
Fu, the Chinese official who Campbell had supposedly talked to, in June 2014 denied that there had been any deal between her and US diplomats in 2012. “I do not know what agreement you are referring to…. The Chinese vessels did not leave the area because they feared the Philippines might double-cross them,” she was reported as saying by the Financial Times. “All China is doing is to keep an eye on the island for fear that the Philippines would do it again,” she reportedly said.
Only del Rosario and Cuisia, and not even Aquino, have claimed that there was such an agreement. But they cannot show any aide memoire, notes of the meeting or a draft agreement that are de rigueur or taken as standard procedure in these kinds of sensitive negotiations.
Trillanes, Aquino’s secret “back-channel” envoy to Chinese officials to resolve the dispute peacefully, at least wrote an aide memoire on the episode. He wrote that “he was still hammering out the details of the sequential withdrawal from the shoal” when the President told him that del Rosario had already ordered the Filipino vessels out of the area. Trillanes wrote that Aquino was angry that del Rosario had not cleared with him the order for the vessels to leave.
It is impossible for such an agreement to have been reached on such an important crisis in a single meeting, and by a sole Chinese official who didn’t even consult her superiors. Anyone familiar with the nature of negotiations between countries, the Chinese Communist Party’s decision-making process, and the circumstances of the Scarborough stand-off would laugh at Cuisia and del Rosario’s claim that Campbell got vice minister Fu to agree to the pullout in one single meeting.
Indeed, only the most incompetent diplomat, or those who had no experience in international negotiations like Cuisia and del Rosario (who were both corporate executives before they joined the Aquino government) would have assumed that Fu had the authority at that secret meeting in a Virginia hotel to commit her country to such a crucial decision.
It was astonishing indeed that Cuisia and del Rosario were ignorant of the fact that China — as all countries do — have a strict hierarchical system for deciding on a course of action. Even if Fu did agree to the proposal for a simultaneous withdrawal of the vessels of the two countries, she could have been “overruled by more hawkish elements in the Chinese system, including the military,” the Financial Times concluded.
“The PRC’s detestation of the internationalization of its one-sided scrum with the Philippines is a byword in Chinese diplomacy,” China observer Peter Lee wrote. “Maybe as a courtesy, Fu agreed to transmit the US proposal back to Beijing; most likely, the leadership’s decision would have been to reject any US involvement in the matter.”
Was it possible that the Americans fooled del Rosario so that we would lose Scarborough Shoal? Certainly. Indeed, “del Rosario said that the loss of Scarborough was the ‘catalyst’ for Manila’s decision to bring China to an international court over its expansive claims in the South China Sea,” the Financial Times reported back in 2014.
To mimic Cuisia’s kind of language: Niloko siya ng mga Kano, Intsik pa rin ang sinisisi.