"..a bardy view!"

A Spratly Spat! China and USA Hosedown!

*Updated May 2012 Sino-Philippine Relations*

It's occurred to me that one of the bigger threats to global stability in the long term is not Islamic terrorism but a clash of superpowers.

As China seeks more resources she is inevitably coming into close quarters with the USA. This is especially noticeable in parts of Africa where they are seeking oil and mineral rights and establishing heavy industry, not always to the benefit of the local populace.

I'm prompted to write about this because both the protagonists have had an encounter in the South China Sea. In fact they came dangerously close to a naval confrontation. Some Chinese ships were attempting to sabotage the underwater sonar being undertaken by the USNS Impeccable, an unarmed surveillance ship used to support anti-submarine warfare.

Whilst most other countries regard the South China Sea as international waters, China claims it as a "special economic exclusion zone". Scsmap

Although they didn't come to blows on this occasion (other than the US sailors directing a high power water hose on the Chinese, who retaliated by stripping down to their underpants), it is a sign of increasing tensions, fuelled in part by the Chinese building a nuclear submarine base on the nearby Hainan Island.

In the near future they also plan on building their own aircraft carriers. All signs of superpower ambitions, say critics. The markets certainly got jittery about it all, as oil prices rose 3%.

Another hotly disputed territory in the region is the oil rich Spratly Islands (the fourth largest reserve bed in the world – bigger than Kuwait),  involving China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, who stepped up their claims on them in 1968, and know them as the Kalayaan Islands (Click on the pic for a detailed view of occupations).

The Chinese regularly make forays on the group, harass local shipping, and commandeer the islands with impunity.

As China becomes more and more energy hungry, with an inability to produce sufficient at home, they will become ever more aggressive in their needs. With the other biggest energy user being the USA, both their paths are bound to cross with less diplomacy, sooner or later.

The Spratly's are a particularly volatile spot. If the Philippines decides to grandstand the Chinese, it's very likely the US will offer support. But as we all know, if the jaw, jaw fails, then the war, war prevails.

 Let's hope I'm 100% wrong. I plan on living permanently in the Philippines in a few short years, and I certainly don't want any Sino-USA Spratly spats on the doorstep!


March 10, 2009 - Posted by | Politics

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