Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has asked Filipino communicators to rally behind the so-called “truth movement” to rectify what he called propaganda in Philippine media pushing for China’s fake historical claims over the disputed South China Sea.
Carpio, who has been in the forefront of the campaign against China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, exhorted Filipino communicators to use their freedom of expression and the power of social media “to expose to the world, and to the Chinese people themselves, the falsity of the historical claim of the Chinese government to the South China Sea.
“We can call this present-day information campaign the South China Sea Truth Movement, a people’s movement using freedom of expression to explain the historical truth about the South China Sea.
“We can invite the peoples of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, countries whose Exclusive Economic Zones are also encroached by China’s nine-dash line, to join us in this Movement,” Carpio said in his speech before this year’s graduates of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication on Friday.
Carpio cited the need to counter Chinese propagandists and trolls who “spread with impunity fake history and fake news within our country” as they “operate freely in Philippine social media, comment freely in Philippine online newspapers and even take out political advertisements in Philippine print newspapers.”
In particular, Carpio pointed to the belief of the Chinese since 1949 when the communists took over their government that China owned the South China Sea since 2,000 years ago, which was already debunked by historical records.
He said this false history was being taught to the Chinese in their schools and believed by every Chinese general, admiral, Politburo member, diplomat, government bureaucrat and every ordinary Chinese citizen.
Carpio said he believed that this was also one of the reasons the Chinese government had refused to recognize the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that rejected its nine-dash line claim.
“This true history is clear, obvious and simple: China never owned the South China Sea in the past, and there are high seas in the South China Sea that belong to all mankind, as there are exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea that belong solely to the adjacent coastal states,” Carpio said.
He lamented that while Philippine democracy allowed such Chinese propaganda in the country, Filipinos could not do the same in China to correct such false historical claims due to the “Great Firewall of China” preventing the Chinese people from accessing foreign social media websites.
Because of this disparity, Carpio said, the proposed information campaign should target over 100-million Chinese people who travel outside China every year.
“Like all the other peoples of the world, the Chinese people are inherently good people. They have, however, been taught by their government only one historical narrative that happens to be totally false.
“I am sure that once informed of the true history of the South China Sea, and confronted with their own historical maps and official records, the Chinese people will accept the truth about the South China Sea.
“These Chinese tourists will eventually spread the truth about the South China Sea to their compatriots at home. And the truth will set the Chinese people on a reconciliation path with the peoples of the Asean coastal state and with the peoples of the rest of the world.”
Carpio said it was important for Filipino communicators to start the campaign now even if the Duterte administration “refuses to assert the arbitral ruling,” adding that “the truth will secure forever our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea to be enjoyed by generations of Filipinos to come.”