China Rattles Its Naval Saber In The Spratlys
A week after it protested the Philippines’ enactment of a new territorial baselines law, China is rattling it naval saber in the disputed Spratlys Islands.
Beijing is actually waving the saber in the direction of the United States in reaction to an incident the other day when US Navy ship patrolling the areas fishing waters supposedly strayed within China’s claimed 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
But the dispatch of its biggest naval trawler is unmistakably a warning for the Philippines not to translate its assertion the Spratlys as a “regime of islands” into a strengthened presence in the outpost island of Pag-asa.
The Philippines has a small barangay populated by fishermen and soldiers keeping watch over an airstrip that runs the full length of the 1.2 kilometer island.
The Chinese have their own military radio and troop bunkers in the nearby Mischief Reef which is also claimed by the Philippines.
China prides itself as a ‘responsible’ world power but its new action clearly tells the Philippines that it can wield a bigger stick if push comes to shove in the disputed area.
Malacanang reads the Chinese action correctly and must now plot its own next steps to protect Pag-asa Island without further ruffling China’s festers.
The question that Pres. Arroyo and her Cabinet national security cluster has before it whether China will buy the Philippine line that any complications arising from the new Philippine Baselines Law can be resolved diplomatically.
Here are further readings on the bickering over the Spratlys: