EDITORIAL: China is challenging the wrong country

CHINA WARSHIPS and militia vessels at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea

US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announced plan to visit Taiwan has been turned into a diplomatic problem, one that could head south very quickly if the People’s Republic of China does not back off from its threat to react in a “resolute and forceful manner.”

In any language, that sounds like a threat, and Chinese President Xi Jinping must be reminded that the US does not take kindly to threats.

China may talk the talk, but it most certainly cannot walk the walk.

While the rest of the world has gotten used to communist countries like China and North Korea sounding off whenever it feels or imagines itself insulted or under threat, their livid responses have been just that – all talk.

Sooner or later, they let their harsh words spoken in the heat of the moment get swept under the rug, hoping that the insulted party is of a forgiving and forgetting nature.

Almost always, diplomacy has resolved whatever differences crop up, and soon enough top officials from both countries end up toasting each other and celebrating their mutually beneficial relationship.

In a way, former President Donald Trump refused to back down one time when he referred to North Korean leader Kim as “rocket man.” Then the two met, and Mr. Trump even cheekily said that he had “fallen in love” with the North Korean dictator.

The erratic personality of the former president must have unnerved North Korea, which could not be absolutely sure that Trump was incapable of doing something stupid, like declare war.

For better or for worse, US President Joe Biden is a more stable leader. He has even suggested that maybe now is not a good time for his close ally Pelosi to visit Taiwan.

China under Xi can be a troublesome matter. Even as its economy has shown signs of faltering, the country continues its expansionist policy, hoping that neighboring countries will fall under its orbit.

China today is acting much like Japan in the pre-World War II era. Back then, the Land of the Rising Sun was moving to create what it called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the Philippines was one of its targets.

Now China has its Silk Road Initiative, where select countries are practically forced to surrender part of their independence in order to avail of massive loans which they cannot pay. Our motherland, the Republic of the Philippines, was practically a de facto province of China under the weak leadership of Rodrigo Duterte. We still have to see how his successor will do.

It goes without saying that the Philippines and the US are two different countries. Where economic, political, and most especially military power is concerned, our motherland and our adopted homeland are miles apart.

China is most certainly making a huge mistake if it believes the US president can be bullied that way the former Philippine president was held under the thumb of the Chinese leader.

We agree with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper as well as Republican Senator Ben Sasse who said that if Pelosi wants to go to Taiwan, she should go to Taiwan, and there’s not a thing that China’s Xi or the country’s communist party can do about it.