WASHINGTON seeks to play a major role in the South China Sea dispute not because it wants to support the Philippines against China, but because of the 15 billion barrels of oil and petroleum products that pass through the strategic route daily, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said Thursday.
Citing US government data, Ridon said about a third of all seaborne oil passes through the South China Sea route every day.
Large quantities of liquefied natural gas and coal also pass the same way, he added.
“President [Benigno] Aquino [III] is an idiot if he thinks Washington will defend us from Beijing because of our existing military relations. The Aquino administration is even a greater fool for practically begging Obama just to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. It’s all about oil and sea trade, stupid,” Ridon said.
Ridon said Washington is intensifying military relations with nations contesting Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea because it is eyeing domination over the lucrative shipping routes passing through this body of water, which geopolitical analysts call the “throat of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.”
Ridon said US data showed that the oil transported through the shipping routes in the South China Sea is triple the volume that passes through the Suez Canal.
“The South China Sea, and the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea, are at the heart of the most important energy trade route in the world. It connects the Strait of Malacca to the rest of Asia, serving as the shortest sea route between African and Persian Gulf oil suppliers. In other words, whoever controls this sea route will control energy trade in the region—and most probably the world,” Ridon said.
Ridon said US President Barack Obama was engaging in “mere rhetoric and doublespeak” when the American leader addressed the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea after a bilateral meeting with President Aquino at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit last Wednesday.
“Mr. Obama is engaging in doublespeak when he talked about lowering tensions and halting Chinese reclamation efforts. Behind those seemingly comforting words, Mr. Obama is only cementing Washington’s interest in the lucrative shipping routes passing through the disputed waters,” Ridon said.
After a meeting with Aquino on Tuesday, Obama told reporters that while the US remains neutral on the territorial claims in the disputed waters, there is a need for “bold steps to lower tensions, including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea.”
“Filipinos should not rejoice over Obama’s pronouncement. For one, we need to analyze why a world superpower from the other side of the Pacific is interested in meddling with the territorial dispute in Asian waters. The keywords here are oil and shipping routes,” Ridon said.
“American oil companies such as Chevron and Texaco would surely make more profit if they use the South China Sea route instead of the more circuitous one,” Ridon told The Standard.
“These American firms supply oil to the Apec member-economies,” he said.
“Under this context, we can understand why Washington wants to play a major role in the West Philippine Sea dispute. It’s not about securing the Philippines or our sovereignty, it’s not about taunting China—it’s all about oil and profits,” Ridon said.
Ridon said even the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Aquino wants the Philippines to be part of, is designed to contest Beijing’s dominance in the busy shipping routes in the South China Sea.
The threat that Beijing poses for our national security is real and significant, yet it does not necessarily mean that we should rely on one bully to defend our national sovereignty from another bully,” Ridon added.