No one will believe that the stand-off between the Philippines and China over a disputed island in the South China Sea is a straightforward bilateral issue. It has serious implications not only for regional politics but also for the changing pattern of global power. This is why it is imperative that a clear basis be established for the resolution of the dispute without any further delay. Both the Philippines and China have adopted what appear to be rigid positions on the ownership of the uninhabitable rock and the waters around it, which the former calls Scarborough Shoal and the latter calls Huangyan Island. The Philippines claims that Scarborough Shoal which is 135 nautical miles from Luzon comes within its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. China, on the other hand, argues that historically Huangyan has been part of her territory and is mentioned in a 13th century Chinese map.
In this five-part series, Asia Times Online's Pepe Escobar explores both the makings and the makers behind the social catastrophe a once rich and promising nation (called "the next Japan" 40 years ago) has become. We won't preempt his findings but will note some equally astonishing and disturbing, but incontrovertible, facts.
In the 1950s, the Philippines was the most dynamic economy in Asia - hailed by the World Bank as a future powerhouse. Half a century later the country is, in the words of Rommel Banlaoi, a political-science professor at the National Defense College, "the sick man of Asia".