West Philippine Sea

How 8 Filipino soldiers are keeping China in check

Screenshot 2013-10-29 09.52.35

The New York Times published an amazing web-magazine over the weekend on how eight Filipino soldiers are keeping the Chinese in check in the South China Sea. The piece is brilliant, and captures the deplorable condition of our troops based in an old U.S. Navy ship.

Here’s a snippet:

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.

This is really something you should visit the New York Times to take the full experience.

Manila to the World: West Philippine Sea, not South China Sea

The Philippine Government has decided to rename “South China Sea”, to “West Philippine Sea”, the Strait Times of Singapore reported.   This in response to the Philippine claim over parts of the Spratly Islands.  The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Eduardo Malaya told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that “the area has long been called Dagat Luzon, or Luzon Sea” by Filipino fisherfolk.   There is a move in the Philippine Congress to officially change the name of the region to “West Philippine Sea”.  Akbayan party-list representative Walden Bello was quoted by the Inquirer to say that this will strengthen the country’s claim over the resources in the area.

Manila also renamed Reed Bank, center of the recent controversy to Recto Bank, Gulf News reported.  Recto Bank is named after Philippine nationalist Senator Claro M. Recto, according to Malacanang Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Tensions are riding high between many of the claimants of the Spratly Islands, especially with recent reports of Chinese incursions into the region.  Vietnam, Taiwan, The People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, Brunei joins the Philippines in making a claim.  The United States has urged diplomacy in settling the issue of the Spratly Islands.


Image via Weather Underground