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

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 thetime in its history when it’s most divided.

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

Even more pressing is the issue of Syria, which has rendered the ArabLeague helpless and impotent in the face of 150,000 Syrian deaths, andmillions of Syrian refugees. If the Arab League can’t do anythingabout 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 — allmembers of the Arab League — there’s a war going on, or at leastthere’s some disturbance and disorder in each country. That’s abouthalf the countries of the Arab League. And there’s no sign thatanything is going to improve soon. Arab News (Saudi Arabia) andAl Jazeera (Qatar)

Vietnam, Philippines unite to confront China in South China Sea

Vietnam and the Philippines are natural allies in the face of China’sbelligerent actions in the South China Sea. China is threatening touse 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-mileterritorial seas, while China has the right annex everything else.The Chinese are using what is being called a “salami slicingstrategy,” described as: “the slow accumulation of small actions, noneof which is a casus belli, but which add up over time to a majorstrategic change.” (You should not miss the point, Dear Reader, thatChina and Russia both feel they have the right to annex othercountries’ territories, especially since apparently no one is willingto stop them.)

According to Philippine and Vietnamese analysts, when the Philippineslast year brought a complaint against China’s actions in the SouthChina Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, the Chinese “werereally unprepared for that and were really embarrassed by it.” Thereason the Chinese are upset is “because they already have fivebattlefields — the political, diplomatic, mass media, security,military — and now [the Philippines] added a sixth: the legalbattlefield. The Chinese have a saying, ‘when the flag is in yourhands, don’t yield it to others.'” Beijing is very much at sea on thelegal front, with little experience in international law.

The downside of the Philippines legal master stroke is that thePhilippines 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 inthe last couple of years, China has annexed the Philippines’Scarborough Shoal, and harassed Philippine fishing boats around theSpratly islands. In the meantime, relations between Vietnam and Chinahave been improving, though unless China has changed policies in theSouth 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 neighboringLiberia, and is also threatening Sierra Leone. The disease spreadsthrough contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Atleast 86 cases and 9 deaths have been recorded. Bloomberg

Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail