World View: China, Taiwan Gang up on Philippines in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Tension grows between Taiwan and Philippines in South China Sea
  • China versus Philippines tension grow as U.S. is distracted
  • India enters the South China Sea dispute

Tension grows between Taiwan and Philippines in South China Sea

The red line shows the regions claimed by China, while the blue lines shows the regions that below to other countries, according to the United Nations (SAAG)
The red line shows the regions claimed by China, while the blue lines shows the regions that below to other countries, according to the United Nations (SAAG)

Anti-Philippine nationalism is growing in Taiwan, over the shooting two weeks ago of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippines Coast Guard ship in a disputed region of the South China Sea. A Philippines official has said it was an accident and apologized, but Taiwan is calling the apology insincere, and is demanding both a formal apology and monetary reparations. Taiwan has already stopped approval work permits for Filipinos applying for work in Taiwan, has banned Taiwanese tourists from visiting the Philippines, and has sent warships to the disputed area to conduct naval drills.

Taiwan is exploiting its economic advantage of the Philippines, putting Philippines officials in a quandary. If there's no apology, then the situation may continue to escalate, and Taiwan might deport all 87,000 Filipinos currently working in Taiwan. On the other hand, if the Philippines issues a formal apology, it would affect navy morale and would place their legal claim to the region in jeopardy.

Let me take this opportunity to point out that this is one more example that contradicts the frequently heard claim that country A will never go to war with country B because it would harm business between the two countries. As in other examples, the opposite is true. If A and B are big trading partners, then trade becomes an additional weapon of war, with advantage going to the country that will lose more economically. Asia Times

China versus Philippines tension grow as U.S. is distracted

When the U.S. announced its "pivot to Asia" in 2010, there was hope in the Philippines that America would become directly involved in the South China Sea disputes and support the Philippines' sovereignty at least over regions in its U.N. defined exclusive economic zone (EEZ). However, the U.S. involvement has been limited by the financial crisis, and the U.S. has been distracted by the growing crisis in the Mideast. As a result, the Philippines government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands by working with other countries in the region to gang up on China diplomatically, in the hope of forcing China to back down on some of its claims in the South China Sea (something that is most definitely not going to happen). Asia Times and The Diplomat

India enters the South China Sea dispute

China's claim to vast areas of the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other nations is causing tensions as far away as India. At a time when China's new prime minister Li Keqiang is visiting India to reduce tensions between the two countries, India's Minister of Defense has issued a statement about the South China Sea dispute:

"There should be freedom of navigation as per the UN conventions.

India has commercial interests and though it is not a party to the dispute, it believes that disputes should be settled as per UN laws.

The protection of Sea-Lanes of Communication is becoming more and more important. Economic development, trade and commerce depend on the security of Sea Lanes of Communication."

This seems like a fairly innocuous statement, but in fact it's highly confrontational, because China adamantly refused to have anything to do with the U.N. conventions. China insists that it wants to settle the South China Sea disputes only via "bilateral negotiations." This means that China negotiates separately with each of the other countries with historical claims to parts of the South China Sea and use its vast military and economic power to force each country to back down. China is furious that these countries are ganging up on China through ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), since it's much harder for China to bully the entire group collectively.

India and Vietnam have set up joint oil exploration projects within the regions of the South China Sea that are clearly within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to the United Nations, and Chinese ships have nonetheless been harassing Indian and Vietnam ships in the region. South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG)


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