Orchestrated Conflicts In The South China Sea

For all of its rhetoric about “avoiding great power politicking,” BGA is linked with the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a well-financed global think-tank “dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity.” Its major funding stems from defense contractors, such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and General Atomics. 

The BGA/CSIS links include BGA President Ernie Bower; a CSIS veteran who chairs the CSIS Advisory Board on Southeast Asia and remains a member of Rosario’s think-tank board. BGA Japan’s head Kiyoaki Aburaki is CSIS senior associate, while the BGA Singapore head is James Carouso; former senior advisor of US INDOPACOM, the unified combatant command of the US Army for the Indo-Pacific. 

One of the many CSIS initiatives is the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) led by Gregory Poling. Both have played a central role in most South China Sea debacles, through interviews and satellite imagery. 

Public agendas, strange bedfellows, private interests

Simularity promotes itself mainly with stories by Philippine-based media, including Rappler, CNN Philippines, Philippine Star, GMA News, Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN News, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). 

In the past, the PCIJ and Rappler reportedly have received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy (NEDA), via US Agency for International Development. Other sources include Radio Free Asia, center-right NewsCorp media in Australia, BBC News and other media based mainly in the US and Australia, and Vietnam. 

As before, several conference speakers have been featured by local media and CNN Philippines, as “independent experts” on South China Sea, including AMTI authors and Rosario-linked analysts (Richard Heyderian, Renato Cruz de Castro, etc).

Of the speakers, Judge Antonio Carpio recently took a far more political role, timed amid the Reef brouhaha. In mid-March, he and Rosario launched a 1Sambayan, a broad coalition of “united opposition” parties for the 2022 election. The strange bedfellows include the Liberal Party, which suffered a meltdown in the 2016 election, military hawks, ex-coup plotters, and closet ultra-left. 

A key background figure behind the group is ex-foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, a wealthy business executive, who is behind Stratbase and ADR Institute, the co-sponsor of the 2020 Conference. In the past, Philippine critics have linked Rosario with regional conglomerates, concession rights, and allegations of conflict of interests regarding South China Sea (see my “Public agendas and private interests in ICC/South China Sea,” TMT, April 8, 2019).

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Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and ...

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