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

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 aTaiwanese fisherman by the Philippines Coast Guard ship in a disputedregion of the South China Sea. A Philippines official has said it wasan accident and apologized, but Taiwan is calling the apologyinsincere, and is demanding both a formal apology and monetaryreparations. Taiwan has already stopped approval work permitsfor Filipinos applying for work in Taiwan, has banned Taiwanesetourists from visiting the Philippines, and has sent warshipsto 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 noapology, then the situation may continue to escalate, and Taiwanmight 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 legalclaim to the region in jeopardy.

Let me take this opportunity to point out that this is one moreexample that contradicts the frequently heard claim that countryA will never go to war with country B because it would harmbusiness between the two countries. As in other examples, theopposite is true. If A and B are big trading partners, thentrade becomes an additional weapon of war, with advantage goingto 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 inthe Philippines that America would become directly involved in theSouth China Sea disputes and support the Philippines’ sovereignty atleast over regions in its U.N. defined exclusive economic zone (EEZ).However, the U.S. involvement has been limited by the financialcrisis, and the U.S. has been distracted by the growing crisis in theMideast. As a result, the Philippines government is increasinglytaking matters into its own hands by working with other countries inthe region to gang up on China diplomatically, in the hope of forcingChina 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 havehistorically belonged to other nations is causing tensions asfar away as India. At a time when China’s new prime ministerLi Keqiang is visiting India to reduce tensions between thetwo countries, India’s Minister of Defense has issued astatement about the South China Sea dispute:

“There should be freedom of navigation as per the UNconventions.

India has commercial interests and though it is not a party to thedispute, it believes that disputes should be settled as per UNlaws.

The protection of Sea-Lanes of Communication is becoming more andmore important. Economic development, trade and commerce depend onthe security of Sea Lanes of Communication.”

This seems like a fairly innocuous statement, but in fact it’s highlyconfrontational, because China adamantly refused to have anything todo with the U.N. conventions. China insists that it wants to settlethe South China Sea disputes only via “bilateral negotiations.” Thismeans that China negotiates separately with each of the othercountries with historical claims to parts of the South China Sea anduse its vast military and economic power to force each country to backdown. China is furious that these countries are ganging up on Chinathrough ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations),since it’s much harder for China to bully the entire groupcollectively.

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

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