FIRING LINE: Taiwan ready for war; Are we?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The stream of thought in Philippine social media has been fascinating these past weeks, pulled apart in different directions by various domestic concerns. We’ve all been drawn to the Senate inquiry, the COVID-19 situation and all its intricacies, and of course, the wannabe presidents.

So, forgive me if I fail to dive into that line of discussion for now because of an international development that I or the rest of the world can’t ignore. At the edge of our northern maritime territory, tensions never yet seen in this millennium are rising between Taiwan and the big Asian bully, China.

In a span of five days last week, 142 Chinese warplanes have flown into Taiwan’s airspace, an act of provocation that has forced the hand of the island nation’s leadership and military to prepare for war.

Make no mistake about it, Taiwan may be small, but its military might is far more advanced and capable of a formidable resistance to China’s aggression than most Southeast Asian countries. Yes, China may have the world’s biggest military on this side of the earth, but Taiwan is not fighting alone.

Taiwan’s foreign minister has already given notice to democratic allies that it is ready for war. With the United States, Japanese and British warships already positioned in international waters nearby, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen warned China its actions would trigger “catastrophic consequences” for all of Asia.

And she is right. If China chooses the path of war with Taiwan and our mutual Western allies suit up for battle, it would be a matter of time until our Southeast Asian neighbors and we are drawn to the fight we never chose.

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Kudos to Rappler’s Maria Ressa for making history as the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize in journalism! While it’s as historic a feat as weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s golden victory in the Olympics this year, there’s a deafening silence in Malacanang.

Well, it’s a bad break for the Duterte administration, which played the villainous role in Ressa’s carrying the torch for press freedom and battling fake news and media oppression, particularly in reporting the President’s deadly war on drugs.

So, don’t expect a whimper of approval from the Palace because if the word “congratulations” even escaped the mouth of the President’s spokesperson, it might as well have admitted that the stories of human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, corruption, and dictatorial tendencies of our sitting president as reported by Ressa and the Rappler are true.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at