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More on the South China Sea
I have written a few pieces in this space on the issues surrounding the South China Sea and disputes between China and Vietnam, China and the Philippines, and also China and Japan (East China Sea in this case)…and you never know when one of these items will explode.
The other day a Chinese government mouthpiece, the Global Times, issued a rather threatening editorial on the region. Here it is…verbatim.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Monday he may ask the U.S. to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea to help monitor disputed waters in the region. The U.S. Department of State did not say whether the U.S. will respond to the request.
The Philippines suffered a setback during the Huangyan Island [Ed. “Scarborough Shoal” to the Philippines and the West…located west of Manila] conflict with China, but it will not back down on the issue. China will be pestered by the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries over the South China Sea for a long time.
The world has entered a stage in which small countries can make trouble for big powers. If these island disputes had happened in imperial times, they would have been handled in a much easier way. China may have many ways to teach the Philippines a lesson, but we must not easily use them.
This does not mean China is showing weakness. The U.S., the most powerful country in the world, has the strength to strike those countries it deems as “evil,” but it has to seek approval from the international community.
The Philippines and Vietnam do deserve to be punished. If they go to extremes in their provocations against China, it is likely that they will finally be punished through means including military strikes. However, China definitely will be very cautious in making such decisions.
The world today is very complicated, and the international environment is undergoing profound changes. China has many strategic opportunities, but is also faced with many dilemmas.
China is a country with great development potential. This determines not only China’s strategic potential, but also the current international system’s continued restraint of China.
The public is becoming increasingly confused over what China’s most pressing issues are. Chinese frictions with neighboring countries have been a major focus of foreign affairs in recent years, but such frictions do not pose a strategic threat to China.
The key point that can decide China’s future is obviously not the same as what public opinion is most concerned about.
A country should clarify its thoughts and firmly follow them, but this is easier said than done, because its development will face constant domestic and foreign disturbances.
The Philippines and Vietnam are obviously disturbing China. They are not part of China’s international political ambitions, but China must not let their disturbance go unchecked.
The right policy might be to tell them our bottom line and avoid a war of words with them, but teach them an unforgettable lesson when it is time to hit back.
Teddy Ng and Greg Torode / South China Morning Post [Hong Kong]…July 9, 2012
“[China’s] leading foreign affairs and military experts yesterday called on Beijing to take a tougher approach to mounting tensions in the South China Sea ahead of a key regional summit in Cambodia this week.
“China should rethink its current policies in handling territorial disputes and act more assertively to strengthen its sovereignty claims over the contested areas, according to panelists who spoke at the World Peace Forum in Beijing. The suggestions came on the eve of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) talks in Phnom Penh today, where the South China Sea dispute is expected to dominate meetings….
“ ‘The situation in the South China Sea does not look optimistic,’ said Luo Yuan, a retired People’s Liberation Army major general known for his hawkish view.
“ ‘While China’s neighbors are under public pressure [to act upon the disputes], the Chinese military is faced with the same pressure.’
“Luo, vice president of the China Strategy Culture Promotion Association, added: ‘China’s patience has been tested to its limits, and there is no room for further tolerance.’”
Both Hanoi and Manila are upset Beijing is looking to establish Sansha, a newly created city to administer the Spratly, Paracel and Macclesfield Bank island chains and nearby waters.
China said it was considering setting up a military command unit in Sansha.
China and Japan have had disputes in the East China Sea as well.
I still maintain this region could yet explode, shocking the financial markets, for starters.
Hot Spots will return in two weeks.