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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tensions Simmer and Ships Clash in South China Sea




We'll probably see more of these sort of incidents as China expands its territories from the necessity of an inefficient economy, the U.S. continues to show apathy weakness. Without the stability of America's military presence and with Obama's legacy of betraying allies China's neighbors must either stand-up to the giant under very uncertain circumstances or back down to China's bullying.

From The Wall Street Journal article by Brian Spegele:

Strains between China and its neighbors burst to the surface in two parts of the South China Sea, taking the high-stakes struggle for control over the waters to new levels of friction.
Off Vietnam, dozens of Chinese military and civilian ships clashed with the Vietnamese coast guard, with Vietnamese officials complaining its vessels were repeatedly rammed. On the same day, Philippine police apprehended Chinese fishing vessels loaded with hundreds of sea turtles in disputed waters.  
About 80 Chinese vessels moved into an area near the disputed Paracel Islands, where Hanoi has sought to prevent China from deploying a massive oil rig, said Rear Adm. Ngo Ngoc Thu, vice commander of the Vietnamese coast guard. He said the flotilla included seven military ships and that it was supported by aircraft. 
He said the situation, which started brewing over the weekend, was "very tense" and said six Vietnamese officers had been injured in the standoff.  
The confrontation—by far the most serious in recent years between the two neighbors—marked a significant escalation in Beijing's willingness to press its natural-resource claims, analysts said.  
[...]  
A senior administration official said the White House views the latest escalation as part of a pattern of behavior as China continues to try to advance its territorial claims. "We're obviously very concerned about it," the official said. "We have conveyed our concerns to the Chinese."

With a strongly written letter that might have used the word "dude,"  no doubt. Seriously, Obama has shown repeatedly that his words are hollow-- if not outright lies-- and that he's most concerned about shifting rather than protecting allies or even American lives.

President Barack Obama toured the region last month, stressing U.S. security cooperation. The latest escalation of tensions in the South China Sea reinforces that the disputes "are not going to be solved with one trip or one speech," said Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "And it shows that the Chinese side is not fazed by the negative reaction in the region," Mr. Green said.

If China's not careful, the First Lady might hashtag them with a sad face. That'll show 'em.

Security scholars said the latest escalation in tensions is the cumulative result of deep-seated mistrust over China's intentions among smaller regional players combined with Beijing's increased assertiveness as well as a lack of mechanisms to prevent and manage crises. 
The confrontation also illuminated the role of China's state-owned energy companies in helping advance China's territorial ambitions, despite frequent assertions by executives that they are driven by profit and not politics.  
[...]  
The Philippines on Wednesday apprehended a Chinese fishing vessel "carrying large numbers of endangered species" near Half Moon Shoal, a sandbar in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and a hotbed for illegal sea-turtle poaching. Philippines police senior inspector Dante Padilla said an inspection of the boat yielded around 500 sea turtles, some of them dead.  
He said the police had arrested the captain of the Chinese vessel and its 10 crew  
The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it seized the Chinese fishing boat "to enforce maritime laws and to uphold Philippine sovereign rights over its [exclusive economic zone]." 
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged the Philippines to release the fishermen and to refrain from taking further provocative actions. Ms. Hua said the Chinese Embassy in Manila had complained to the Philippine government. 
The Philippines and China have overlapping maritime claims in several areas in the South China Sea. Amid China's recent aggressive assertions of its claims in the dispute areas, the Philippines had brought its case before an international tribunal to rally international support for its territorial claim.  
On his visit to the region last month, President Obama assured the Philippines that American military support is "ironclad," though he left vague whether the U.S. would come to the aid of the Philippines in its island disputes.

Of course Obama say "ironclad" and then not commit to defending the Philippines. Community organizers give speeches in which they make distorted claims and then give false reassurances. Then they move on to the next controversy and expect people to forget their first speech. It's crap. And Obama's been practicing it for decades. Did anyone truly believe that would all change after being elected following and ugly campaign?

I think there's little doubt China will continue to test the limit of what it's neighbors and the U.S. will tolerate. And the Obama Administration will tolerate quite a lot-- especially when others bear the brunt of the China's bullying. China's neighbors on the other hand... I don't know. There's a lot of trouble brewing in Asia.

Internationally, things look pretty bleak right now. Russia is invading Ukraine and stirring up a hornet's nest in the rest of Europe. Iran is practicing blowing up American ships. Islamic Extremism has taken a firm root in several Middle Eastern countries. And China is encroaching all along its oceans.

Unless there's a dramatic shift in the near future (1 year), I'm betting there will be a fair-sized conflict in either Asia and Europe. That is, of course, in addition to the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

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