World View: Vietnam, Philippines Unite to Confront China in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from

  • Arab League holds annual meeting among bitter splits
  • Vietnam, Philippines unite to confront China in South China Sea
  • Ebola virus spreading from Guinea to Liberia

Arab League holds annual meeting among bitter splits

Arab League meeting on Tuesday (AP)
Arab League meeting on Tuesday (AP)

The 69 year old Arab League is meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday at the time in its history when it's most divided.

Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt and Saudi Arabia refer to as a terrorist organization, has resulted in a bitter dispute that cause Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to recall their ambassadors from Qatar, as we recently reported.

Even more pressing is the issue of Syria, which has rendered the Arab League helpless and impotent in the face of 150,000 Syrian deaths, and millions of Syrian refugees. If the Arab League can't do anything about such a serious problem, then what is it good for?

In fact, there's a whole list of issues facing the Arab League, especially since the beginning of the "Arab Spring." In Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Bahrain, and Somalia -- all members of the Arab League -- there's a war going on, or at least there's some disturbance and disorder in each country. That's about half the countries of the Arab League. And there's no sign that anything is going to improve soon. Arab News (Saudi Arabia) and Al Jazeera (Qatar)

Vietnam, Philippines unite to confront China in South China Sea

Vietnam and the Philippines are natural allies in the face of China's belligerent actions in the South China Sea. China is threatening to use its massive military force to annex the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. According to the Chinese, these countries have no rights to anything outside their 12-mile territorial seas, while China has the right annex everything else. The Chinese are using what is being called a "salami slicing strategy," described as: "the slow accumulation of small actions, none of which is a casus belli, but which add up over time to a major strategic change." (You should not miss the point, Dear Reader, that China and Russia both feel they have the right to annex other countries' territories, especially since apparently no one is willing to stop them.)

According to Philippine and Vietnamese analysts, when the Philippines last year brought a complaint against China's actions in the South China Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, the Chinese "were really unprepared for that and were really embarrassed by it." The reason the Chinese are upset is "because they already have five battlefields — the political, diplomatic, mass media, security, military — and now [the Philippines] added a sixth: the legal battlefield. The Chinese have a saying, 'when the flag is in your hands, don't yield it to others.'" Beijing is very much at sea on the legal front, with little experience in international law.

The downside of the Philippines legal master stroke is that the Philippines replaced Vietnam as China's number one harassment target. It used to be that the Chinese regularly attacked Vietnam boats. (see "10-Jun-11 News -- Vietnam protests Chinese attack on Vietnamese survey ships"). But in the last couple of years, China has annexed the Philippines' Scarborough Shoal, and harassed Philippine fishing boats around the Spratly islands. In the meantime, relations between Vietnam and China have been improving, though unless China has changed policies in the South China Sea, that improvement won't last long. Foreign Policy in Focus and RSIS (India)

Ebola virus spreading from Guinea to Liberia

The Ebola virus appears to be spreading from Guinea to neighboring Liberia, and is also threatening Sierra Leone. The disease spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. At least 86 cases and 9 deaths have been recorded. Bloomberg

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