March 27, 2024 Special Announcements No. 1463

Special Announcement: Manila-Based Expert Andrew J. Masigan Joins MEMRI

March 27, 2024
China | Special Announcements No. 1463

MEMRI is honored to welcome renowned Manila-based economist and political scientist Andrew James Masigan as a special advisor to MEMRI's China Media Studies Project. Mr. Masigan is an economist, a businessman, and a political columnist for The Philippine Star. He is also board member of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.

In his writings, Mr. Masigan warned about China's hegemonic and expansionist ambitions in the region. Mr. Masigan warned that if China is allowed to subsume the South China Sea, then the CCP would control the bulk of world trade and gain unprecedented economic and military control over the Indo-Pacific region. "Having dominion over Taiwan and the sea lanes is precisely the power base China needs to project its influence worldwide. It brings it one step closer to dethroning the U.S.," he stated.

Concerning Taiwan, Mr. Masigan stressed that, in his New Year message, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that 2024 will be the year of reunification between China and Taiwan. In fact, Mr. Masigan wrote that China has been preparing for war: "This is evident in the wartime infrastructure they've built; in the changes they've made in their legal system; in the preparations to sanction-proof their economy; in their stockpile of fuel, essential raw materials and food and, most especially, in ensuring military readiness. China is telling the world of its intentions through its actions."

According to Masigan, there are several factors that could trigger an invasion: "First, if [Taiwan's President-elect] Lai Ching-te declares independence from China. Second, for political reasons. China's economy is in bad shape and public dissent is on the rise. A war will distract the Chinese people whilst uniting them. Third, if the People's Liberation Army pressures Xi to invade now (rather than later) since the generals are aging and their preparations will soon be for naught. Fourth, the power struggles within the Chinese Communist Party become so dividing that a war is used to unite the party. Fifth, if China's grey zone intimidation tactics are met with armed response." In addition, Masigan stated that 2024 is an opportune time for China to make its move: "America faces a presidential election in November and the last thing the American electorate wants is to fight a war that is not theirs. The more support Biden extends to Taiwan, the less popular he becomes. So should China attack Taiwan this year, Biden will be politically constrained."

As tensions are rising in the West Philippine Sea, Masigan stated that China's hostility towards the Philippines stems from the "Philippines' correct pivot to the axis of democracy." Commenting on the frequent China's water cannon attacks against Filipino vessels, Masigan stressed: "We must not take the frequent water cannon attacks like a sitting duck. I think Philippine National Security Secretary Eduardo Año was wrong not to react. He should have fired back with water cannons since matching one type of aggression with the same cannot be considered escalation. Because, as I have said before, real escalation is to show weakness. Weakness is akin to an open invitation for China to act with impunity. A calculated retaliatory action works as strategic deterrence."

Masigan suggested the Philippines must "de-risk" from China and "lean in" to partner countries with whom the country shares the same values, such as Japan.

It is worth noting that the Philippines and the United States signed a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in 1951. The treaty has eight articles and requires both allies to defend each other if another party attacks the Philippines or the United States. Hence, one major accident provoked by China in the West Philippine Sea could trigger the U.S. or the Philippines to invoke the MDT.

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