President Aquino Is Right in Equating China with Hitler and the Nazis

by Jose Rizal M. Reyes / poet-philosopher / updated August 7, 2015

In early 2014, President Benigno Aquino III told The New York Times that the West’s failure to confront China over its increasingly assertive territorial ambitions was similar to the disastrous appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s. He said China’s claim in the West Philippine Sea resembled Nazi Germany’s demands for Czech territory prior to World War II.

The remark drew angry reaction from Beijing. But it did not deter China from its aggressive and expansionist course which lately culminated to its frenetic construction of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea.

Amidst the growing alarm over China’s island building — which caused the the United States to take a more muscular stance in the area in recent days to the delight and relief of China’s worried neighbors — President Aquino repeated his comparison of present-day China to Nazi Germany when he addressed the Japanese parliament last June. He said that the world could not continue to appease China as it claims more and more territory, hinting that an immediate and forceful response from the international community was in proper order.

Philippine president Benigno Aquino III addresses the Japanese Parliament.

As usual, China was not happy with Aquino’s speech. “I am deeply shocked at the absurd and unreasonable remarks by the relevant Philippine leader and express my strong dissatisfaction and opposition,” said China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a regular news conference in Beijing. For his part, Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua told Chinese media in Manila that “such a comment made by the Philippine president seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

Now, I am not an Aquino fan. But as I was preparing an eposter in connection with August being the Global Month of Defiance Against China, jotting down a litany of charges against the big bad dragon, I couldn’t help but be reminded about Nazi Germany. The parallelism was just too striking to ignore. Then I remembered Aquino’s China-Hitler comparison.

Remember the old unlamented German concept of Lebensraum? It is a concept associated with racial superiority and territorial expansion. It means “living space” — the idea that a healthy and vigorous race has the right to drive away inferior races so it can secure the land and resources necessary for its natural development.

To start off, China is trying to grab portions of our country’s territory and exclusive economic zone as well as some parts of the global commons. It is also getting more aggressive in dealing with unresolved territorial disputes with other neighbors, notably India and Japan. Its spurious nine-dash territorial claim is so excessive that even Indonesia is getting anxious about its own marine backyard. China’s fishing fleets casually violate the fishing grounds of other countries even as its armed ships harass local fishermen.

Albert F. del Rosario, Philippine secretary of foreign affairs
Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Philippine Supreme Court, a leading light on the legal aspect of China’s spurious territorial claim.

More ominously, the Chinese try to expand the rule of tyranny and totalitarianism beyond China’s borders. They build military garrisons in the middle of the sea. They mass-produce warships, warplanes and other weapons of war. They dream of reducing other nations into tributaries and vassal states of China, thus restoring the Middle Kingdom into what they fondly think was its glorious and rightful position in the days of yore when barbarian nations paid homage to China and its superior civilization.

China’s autistic thoughts and aggressive moves can only lead to war in the same way that Hitler’s aggressive military buildup and territorial grabbing led to World War II. Precisely what the Philippine president has been saying.

Speaking of Hitler, what the Chinese are attempting to do is to establish themselves as the master race, just like what the Nazis tried to achieve during a bygone age. And other countries will not simply allow this to happen. Already, several nations don’t bother to hide their grave concern at the pace of China’s military buildup and territorial aggrandizement. In fact, China has triggered a deadly arms race and a flurry of alliance building in the region, raising tension among countries and the possibility of war.

One of the posters for the Global Month of Defiance Against China.

At the forefront of counterbalancing China are the US, Japan, India, Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The regional primacy and global leadership of the US are at stake in this epoch-defining geopolitical struggle. China has territorial disputes with Japan, India, Vietnam and the Philippines — driving these four to move closer to the US. As for Australia, aside from its strong Western connections, it came up with a defence white paper way back in 2009 identifying China as a growing threat, which angered the latter when the pertinent portion leaked out.

From July 4–19 this year, the US and Australia conducted their biennial joint military exercise involving 200 aircraft, 21 ships and more than 33,000 troops. For the first time, New Zealand and Japan participated, each sending a token force (500 troops and 40 troops respectively). Japan is also joining the periodic US-Indian bilateral military exercise sometime this year. India on its part will hold a joint naval exercise with Australia from October 30 to November 4.

Not to be outdone, China held a live-fire military exercise last August 4, reportedly involving more than 100 ships, many aircraft, several missile-launch battalions, and an unknown number of information-warfare troops. The venue was described as southeast of Hainan Island, close to the Paracel Islands, and north of the Spratlys. Another Chinese military exercise is slated for August 8 in the same area. China is also scheduled to undertake with Russia a joint naval exercise from August 20 to 28 in the Sea of Japan.

These are but a few samples of intense military preparations going on in the region, marking the Asia-Pacific as the main geopolitical arena in our time, and the likely theater of a major armed conflict. China itself has warned that war is inevitable if the US keeps on meddling in its activities. In a recent military white paper, China also stated its intention to focus on building its offensive capabilities rather than its current defensive stance.

Nobody in his right mind would wish to see a shooting war involving two major nations possessing nuclear weapons. But based on the annals of war, when the atmosphere is highly charged and nations begin forming alliances, war can be ignited by an unexpected incident as in World War I or by the unrelenting expansionist drive for supremacy as in World War II. If and when war breaks out in these parts of the globe, Aquino’s China-Hitler comparison might just be proven to be quite appropriate and accurate.