The dispute between the US and China in the South China Sea is actually without factual and legal basis.
First, the US has no territorial claim in the South China Sea where it could clearly be asserted that a territorial boundary has been violated.
The US cannot point to any area where the territorial boundary with China, with Spain or with any of the neighboring countries in the South China Sea has been violated.
The existing dispute between the Philippines and China is rather an indirect dispute between China and the US.
This dispute is the result of hegemonism where the two powers in the region slug it out to assert economic, political and even cultural control on the other.
There is no direct clash between the US and China in the South China Sea except that each is actively and openly supporting the other to advance their interests in the region.
The intensifying conflict between the Philippines and China is a budding case of fomenting proxy where countries in the region would end up in direct clash with either the US or China which it could manipulate, influence or put pressure to pursue or advance their interests in the concept of exercising hegemony over them.
Second, the US is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).
This explains why then Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, during the Obama administration issued a statement saying the US will not come to the rescue of the Philippines if it is attacked by China.
This means that as far as the US is concerned, it has no claim or territorial dispute arising from the treaty limitation signed in Paris on December 10, 1898.
The conflict with the People’s Republic of China first became apparent after the nationalist government headed by Chiang Kai Shek was booted out and settled in an offshore island called Taiwan.
To avoid and minimize the possibility of a continuing conflict, China sought to impose a one-China policy before any country that might extend diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
The one-China policy was after the Shanghai Communique signed by Premier Chou En Lai and then US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.
That historic communique, in substance, demanded that countries opening diplomatic relations with China are advised to cut off diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
When the Philippines decided to open ties with China and subsequently cut off diplomatic ties with Taiwan which, as stated, was patterned after the Shanghai Communique, we all assumed that the Philippines has no territorial dispute with China or with Taiwan insofar as the boundaries demarcated in the Treaty of Paris is concerned.
The disputes that cropped up between the Philippines and Taiwan are disputes arising from the unresolved civil war between China and Taiwan, and not really between China and the US or with the Philippines as successor-in-interest to the Treaty of Paris in 1898.
Third, the country’s territorial dispute came about after Obama’s East Asian policy of “pivot to Asia.”
Therefrom, the US began to concoct many issues against China, beginning from alleged claim of wanting to occupy the whole of South China Sea.
From there, several issues have been raised against China like the issue of trade imbalance principally because of its failure to stop the unmitigated devaluation of its own currency, the unjustified formation of alliances in the Indo-Pacific of countries not geographically located in the region, the unilateral imposition of its so-called “rules-based order.”
The assertion of US hegemony in the South China Sea was equally meant to give the US a wider room of power flexibility in the region.
The US is fully aware that China was expanding fast its naval power in the South China Sea.
The US alone might not be able to match this new emerging power in the region.
The US has encouraged the formation of various alliances in the Indo-Pacific with many countries invited to join even if they are not in fact located in Asia or the Pacific region.
It began in the early 70s when it created economic alliance, and later on military alliance to seemingly offset the balance of power that was hurtling fast against it.
Although the ASEAN was the first of such regional grouping, ASEAN was the first grouping to re-calibrate the association to one of a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality.
Next was the formation of APEC or the Asia-Pacific Economic Council.
APEC has become somewhat converted into a military alliance that covered both rims of the Pacific Ocean in Asia to South America.
Member countries cannot get away from their conversion into a military alliance by the US.
The membership includes South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Japan and South Korea cannot disengage themselves because of unresolved threat from North Korea, the dispute between North Korea and Japan, and the territorial dispute of Japan with China and with Russia.
These are interlocking issues the US cannot just set aside without jeopardizing the security of the region.
The US has complicated by adding some kind of racist tone to the alliance like the formation of the so-called “Five Eyes,” which is an intelligence cooperation among the “five English speaking states of UK, US, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
It formed an alliance that visibly divided the alliance itself like the decision to create AUKUS to speed up the delivery of eight nuclear power submarines from the US and UK.
And finally, the formation of the Indo-Pacific alliance which aims to stretch the US Navy to patrol in the South China Sea, westward to the Pacific and which accorded India the right to patrol beyond the Straits of Malacca onward to the Indian Ocean overstretching the geographical boundaries of the alliance.
Many are contesting the concept of an Indo-Pacific alliance because India is not truly an ally of the US. India has professed itself to be neutral. In fact, India is more of an ally of Russia especially in the imposition of energy sanction against Russia.
Worth noting is the leasing of the US military bases abroad like the US bases in the Philippines through EDCA.
The idea proposed by the Philippine ambassador to the US to lease those bases acquired by the US to any country considered an ally against China is the most despicable violation of our treaty with the US.
First, the US cannot have those bases leased to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia even by the US for the fact that they are not renting any of those bases.
It cannot even be assumed that they are here because of their alliance with the Philippines.
In the first place, there exists no alliance with the Philippines and with those countries.
There is a long process before the country can give permission to use the Philippines as their military base.
We have to have alliance with these countries similar to base agreement we signed with the US.
Any agreement we signed must comply with constitutional requirement like being ratified by our Senate as a treaty and not just through an executive agreement; not to allow the entry and storage of nuclear weapons.
The Philippines must have criminal jurisdiction committed by their servicemen inside the bases; that as lessee, it must pay the rent for the use of those bases.
The bases should not be used to carry out any mission that would endanger the national security interest of the country.