The Philippines’ secret weapon against Chinese incursions

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IN THE COLD WAR In the warm waters of the South China Sea, a fighter, the Philippines, has discovered a new weapon to keep his opponents away from the areas he claims: the voice of women. On June 30, the Philippine Coast Guard vessel Cabra spotted seven foreign vessels, including five Chinese, in waters claimed by the Philippines and China. One of the CabraThe officers of, Provisional Ensign Gretch Mary Acuario, a woman, hailed the foreign craft and asked them to identify themselves and declare their intentions, a sort of nautical formal invitation to take off. Without waiting to answer, the seven boats sped off. It was no accident. The same officer had achieved a similar feat in April.

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Ensign Acuario has shown what the Coast Guard suspected for a while: that his women are more effective at speaking than his men. Mistrust was so strong that the Coast Guard organized special training, exclusively for women, as radio operators. The course resulted in the graduation of 81 female radio operators just days before Ensign Acuario’s last triumph. Vice Admiral Leopoldo Laroya told the trainees that, in their interactions with strangers, their voices were less likely than those of men to escalate tensions. “We want our sea angels to become the voice of a peaceful and rules-based order at sea, especially in our country’s sensitive maritime borders,” he said.

The waters of the South China Sea contain abundant fish, lie above oil and gas fields, and are a busy corridor for ships carrying many of the world’s trade goods. The other riparian states, while keen to maintain their claims, do not want to engage in a gun war with China, which claims most of the sea and has built man-made islands bristling with missiles and fighter jets. to defend it. For the most part, however, both China and other claimants are trying to assert themselves with fishing boats or coastguard vessels, in order to reduce the risk of escalation. Via the radio or loudspeakers, each side tells the other that it is a trespassing and clearing.

Why the voices of the angels of the sea should be more persuasive is a matter of speculation. Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo told local media that the voice of a female radio operator “becomes calming. The environment becomes calm and no one raises their voice. The Philippine National Police had set an example by placing female police officers at the forefront of its riot squads, in the hope that the mere sight of the women would deter angry mobs from attacking. The tactic generally works.

Or maybe the gender of the speaker doesn’t make any difference. Chinese captains can simply listen to whispers from their own government warning them to act with restraint in contested waters when there is still a chance that Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President, will in turn weaken his country’s military alliance. with America. This alliance is a far greater deterrent to the assertiveness of the Chinese in disputed waters than a whole chorus of Sea Angels.

This article appeared in the Asia section of the print edition under the headline “Hark! Herald angels say ‘buzz off'”


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