China continues with its aggressive tactics in claiming a group of small islands, which according to a recent ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague, is rightfully owned by The Philippines as CNN reports. The fourth biggest country in the world in terms of land mass, China appears to have appropriated the so-called Spratly Islands for itself by means of building artificial islands from the original and natural rock formations, according to a Forbes report last year.
China has also maintained a continuing military presence in the Spratly’s, triggering a counter-move, says Forbes on the part of the United States to deploy a part of its military fleet in the contested area in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea. The disputed area is a part of a high-traffic corridor where sea commerce is conducted on a daily basis and where military ships and submarines are allowed to pass 24/7 since it is considered to be a part of international waters. According to CNN, the said corridor generates $5 trillion worth of trade annually. The same source also highlights what the PCA means when the international court decided in favor of the Philippines.
“The tribunal concluded that China doesn’t have the right to resources within its nine-dash line, which extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan and covers some 90 percent of the disputed waters.”
CNN likewise underscores the Chinese reaction to the verdict as follows.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is likely to have lasting implications for the resource-rich hot spot. China will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.”
China is one of the signatories to the International Law Of the Seas which established the PCA.
In encroaching on what has been traditionally a Philippine jurisdiction, China would rely on its superior military power according to the Forbes report mentioned earlier. When placed side by side with the military might of the Philippines, Chinese power definitely puts the tiny country in the Pacific at a severe disadvantage. So much so that these days, struggling Filipino fishermen have been turned away from fishing in the area which has been a source of Philippine livelihood for centuries, according to Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Aside from the strong Chinese military presence in the region, Elite Readers reports that Philippine fishermen were recently turned away from the Spratly’s when Chinese operatives dispensed some kind of poison in the waters, killing a big amount of fish, other sea creatures, and possibly a part of the coral reefs underneath. After all, the original geological formations prior to the Chinese land mass enhancements were not technically islands but hardened coral reefs known historically as Scarborough Shoal, Paracel Islands, and Spratly Islands.
CNN believes that the brewing Chinese-Philippine conflict that has drawn the USA, could result in a full-scale war through what the source calls “a risk of miscalculation.”
This means that tensions can possibly escalate on both sides through a move that may be subject to alternative interpretations. China, according to Forbes, has already criticized the United States in the past for meddling in the South China Sea when it “complained about a U.S. recon flight over the Spratlys.”
Apparently, China does not see its act of building an artificial land around the Spratly’s as well as building military facilities on such reclaimed land as an act of aggression, which is a perfect example of what CNN considers a risk of miscalculation.
During World War II, General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the United States, liberated the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
On Saturday, South China Morning Post disclosed that the reason for building the artificial land around the Spratly’s is “to provide a ring of protection for its fleet of advanced nuclear submarines based on the southern tip of Hainan Island.”
[Photo by Taiwan Ministry of Defense/AP Images]