World View: Philippines building naval base in South China Sea

World View: Philippines building naval base in South China Sea

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 50,000 Syrian Christians ask for Russian citizenship
  • Philippines building a new naval base in South China Sea

50,000 Syrian Christians ask for Russian citizenship

An enclave of 50,000 Christians in Syria have sent a letterto Russia’s Foreign Ministry seeking dual citizenship: 

“Since Syrian law allows dual citizenship, we havedecided to seek citizenship of the Russian Federation if this ispossible. Russian citizenship would be an honor for any SyrianChristian who wished to acquire it. …

It is for the first time since the Nativity of Christ that weChristians of Qalamoun living in the villages of Saidnaya, MaaraSaidnaya, Maaloula and Maaroun are under threat of banishment fromour land. We prefer death to exile and life in refugee camps, andso we will defend our land, honor and faith, and will not leavethe land on which Christ walked.”

The Christians are allied with the Bashar al-Assad regime,and are fearful of terrorist attack by the al-Qaeda linkedjihadists that have been coming to Syria, which theyblame on the West. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the issue was up to Russia’sleadership to decide, since Russian citizenship is granted bypresidential decree. Interfax Religion (Moscow) and Ria Novosti (Moscow)

Philippines building a new naval base in South China Sea

Although hostile confrontations between China and nations borderingthe South China Sea have been out of the news for a while, tensionshave remained high. However, China still claims all the islands andresources of the entire South China Sea, including regions that havehistorically belonged to other countries, including Vietnam, Brunei,Malaysia and the Philippines. China blames the United States forstirring up trouble by, among other things, encouraging thePhilippines to submit its dispute with China to the internationaltribunal of the United Nations’ law of the sea, which China refuses torecognize. According to a recent editorial in China’s governmentorgan: 

“But the US has not succeeded in convincingAsia-Pacific nations that these international laws are crucial totheir foreign policy. Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia haveall tacitly or explicitly admitted Beijing’s sovereignty over theislands and islets within the South China Sea’s nine-dashline. However, these three countries have all seized some islandsand islets on the Chinese side of the nine-dash line. The US hasfailed to fairly judge the disputes – in fact, once again, itencourages these nations to contest Chinese claims.”

This is a really bizarre description of the situation, but it’sprobably one the many Chinese officials believe. Furthermore, China’sleadership has become increasingly assertive in the last few weeks asChina’s president Xi Jinping made a strong presence at the ASEANmeeting of southeast Asian nations, while President Obama was acomplete no-show because of the government shutdown. 

The Philippines has, in particular, decided that it can’t entirelydepend on the U.S. for protection in the South China Sea, despite themutual defense treaty that the two signed decades ago. As we recentlyreported ( “17-Aug-13 World View — U.S. and Philippines make military plans to counter China”), Philippine and U.S. officials have agreed that theU.S. will deploy aircraft, ships, troops and equipment in civilian andmilitary facilities in the Philippines, while the Philippines beefs upits own military capabilities. Last week, Philippine officialsannounced that they’re building a new naval base in the South ChinaSea on Oyster Bay, just 100 miles from the Spratly Islands, which arebitterly contested between the Philippines, Vietnam and China.China Daily (Beijing) and The Diplomat

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