Sometimes, when words intended to describe one thing are mentioned, they conjure up images that are quite different from what they once actually meant. Such is the case we now find ourselves in with respect to the “South China Sea.” I suppose the word “China” is the stickiest one of the three. I don’t think of a body of water anymore when I read the headlines right now so much as an interesting and sticky political situation with the potential to destabilize the region quite quickly.
The political theater surrounding “ownership” of the South China Sea is really quite rich. The claims and counterclaims, the history that is purported to be there, the ancient fishing grounds and relics of antiquated maps establishing primacy and all the rest. Too many countries with too many claims. How does one go about sorting it out?
Actually, a panel of judges, as we’ll call the decision-making body that China has basically pushed aside, even before a decision was handed down, did that very thing just a few weeks ago (July 2016). It concluded that China’s bold moves in the area are not to be seen as any sort of right to the body of water, or at least to very large portions of it, and that the country should cease and desist post haste.
It’s good that we have a clue as to what China’s true intentions might be, despite what their leaders might otherwise be spinning for us. After all, we know that China is a rising superpower. We know that it takes a whole lot of fire to keep an economic blaze like that going for the foreseeable future. Fire needs fuel, and there’ve been reports that the South China Sea is awash in the stuff (oil and natural gas, of course). Not to mention that the big boats carrying goods to all parts of the world crisscross through those same waters at a pace that puts at least some of the other important shipping lanes to shame.
So, it’s easy to see that a whole lot is at stake. China is the bully on the block. None of the other nations staking claims in the area come close to China’s military or economic might. China knows this and seems to be intent on making a statement, despite the best efforts of others to stop it in its own dirty wake.
What one does have to admit as rather remarkable, no matter who’s side of the fight they’re on, is the transformation of some smallish spits of land into airfields, complete with facilities to house and maintain fighter jets. Truly astonishing if you look at the before and after photos. If nothing else, we have to hand it to the Chinese for their grit, tenacity, engineering ingenuity, and all the rest. But, in the meantime, the world will not stand for such bullish behavior, and the Chinese haven’t heard the last of it yet. Too many upraised fists still shaking in the air, and not enough of them showing anything for all their efforts but a big empty net full of nothing.
Sincere thanks for stopping by!