A Game of Shark and Minnows


China and The Philippines at odds over The South China Sea

 

A special report by The New York Times, released in October 2013, about a small group of Filipino soldiers guarding one of the most isolated spots in South China Sea, as it, complicated by geographical, political, historical, and maritime claims, becomes a point of contention for numerous Asian states, including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, and how the troops must endure physical and mental hardships in carrying on what they call ‘a national duty’, in addition to frequent incursions made by Chinese ships.

Enriched with multimedia features – and even visual and sound effects – get the best experience in reading it.

 

Excerpt:

 

China is currently in disputes with several of its neighbors, and the Chinese have become decidedly more willing to wield a heavy stick. There is a growing sense that they have been waiting a long time to flex their muscles and that that time has finally arrived. “Nothing in China happens overnight,” Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the director of Asia-Pacific programs at the United States Institute of Peace, said. “Any move you see was planned and prepared for years, if not more. So obviously this maritime issue is very important to China.”

It is also very important to the United States, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made clear at a gathering of the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) in Hanoi in July 2010. Clinton declared that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea was a “national interest” of the United States, and that “legitimate claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived solely from legitimate claims to land features,” which could be taken to mean that China’s nine-dash line was illegitimate. The Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, chafed visibly, left the meeting for an hour and returned only to launch into a long, vituperative speech about the danger of cooperation with outside powers.

President Obama and his representatives have reiterated America’s interest in the region ever since. The Americans pointedly refuse to take sides in the sovereignty disputes. But China’s behavior as it becomes more powerful, along with freedom of navigation and control over South China Sea shipping lanes, will be among the major global political issues of the 21st century. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, of the $5.3 trillion in global trade that transits the South China Sea each year, $1.2 trillion of it touches U.S. ports — and so American foreign policy has begun to shift accordingly.

 

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