Friday, May 12, 2017

Golez: Scarborough Shoal is a red line. China intends to construct a mammoth naval and air base there.

Golez: Scarborough Shoal is a red line. China intends to construct a mammoth naval and air base there.

As early as August 2012, I have been warning in blogs, social media and various speaking engagements at the NDCP, Maritime Forum, PNP, schools and radio TV interview, think tank discussions abroad, that China intends to construct on and develop Scarborough Shoal into a military-civilian base. It is part of Philippine territory as provided by RA 9522, our national baselines law. I had the privilege of bing the Chairman of the Technical Working Group when this law was crafted in the House of Representatives. I am showing here China's reported master plan for Scarborough Shoal.

Scarborough Shoal is big. It has a navigable lagoon that is around 130 square kilometers surrounded by rocks that can easily be reclaimed. The entire Scarborough Shoal - lagoon and surrounding rocks - has an area of 150 square kilometers, almost the size of Quezon City. China if not stopped, China can transform Scarborough Shoal into a mammoth naval and air base that would be a clear and present danger to the entire Philippines and our allies.

If China succeeds in transforming Scarborough Shoal into a mammoth Chinese naval and air base, they will be able to complete their envisioned strategic triangle to gain full control of the South China Sea. The two points of that strategic triangle are now complete: First, Woody Island in the Paracels, already with an operational air base. And second, the cluster of artificial islands China constructed over the past two years, the biggest off which are Mischief Reef inside our EEZ, Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef, each with a three kilometer runway capable of hosting 24 J-11 fighters that can achieve air superiority in the South China Sea.

I would like to reiterate my August 10, 2012 blog:

Roilo Golez: China can convert our Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal into a large naval station!

In a privilege speech I delivered almost 14 years ago on Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, I opened with the following observations:

"Why would a military behemoth and an emerging economic power such as China be so preoccupied with microscopic Scarborough Shoal which rightly belongs to us in the first place?

When US naval forces were still occupying Subic, the area was used for naval gunfire target practice by the US Navy. China did not make even a whimper. Obviously, the reason was that the US Navy was too big to handle.

No less than the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sealed off our territorial jurisdiction on Scarborough Shoal which is situated well within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

The answer, Mr. Speaker, is military posturing. Scarborough Shoal is part of China's military projection at the South China Sea.

In Scarborough Shoal, China has found a perfect forward fortress at the east to back up its slow but nonstop political and naval march towards the north, where there are Korea, Japan, Taiwan, among others. China has unleashed a blob at the South China Sea, floating eastward, growing slowly, menacingly, nearly unopposed, devouring every speck, every shoal and reef along the way.

Chinese military contingents are already positioned in various reefs, islets, and rocks of the South China Sea Region, particularly in the Spratlys and the Paracels. Scarborough Shoal is just one more step forward in their bid to secure full control of the world’s second busiest international sea lane."

And I concluded with this warning:

"Mr. Speaker, it is apparent from the foregoing that what the Philippines is facing is not a gentle, lovable Chinese panda, but a fire-breathing highly awakened Chinese dragon. It is a delicate, complex and crucial policy issue that we must resolve for the sake of the next generation. To me, it is a security threat that could overshadow all threats that we faced in the century that is about to end."

I am showing an aerial photo of our Shoal. It is not small. Its area of around 150 square kilometers makes the Shoal as big as Quezon City or around three times the area of Paranaque. China with its resources and engineering capability can easily convert our Shoal into a big naval station. Around its perimeter alone, 100 052D Class Chinese guided missile destroyers or DDGs can be berthed. Inside the 49 feet deep lagoon, more than 200 DDGs can be anchored (a destroyer has a draft of around 31 feet).

It is my considered opinion that China intends to convert our Shoal into a naval station the same way they did to the much smaller Mischief Reef. This is the danger that faces us within this decade.

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