Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Fu Ying, China's Vice Foreign Minister met this week with Alex Chua, Charge D'Affaires at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, and bluntly told Mr. Chua that his country is to back off from the maritime stalemate between the two countries, over Chinese claims to Scarborough Shoal*.

Both countries have ships at the disputed island, which China has claimed "indisputable sovereignty" over as part of its attempts to claim the entire South China Sea. The Philippines has sought to obtain arbitration over the controversy, at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, but China has reportedly refused to participate. 

Scarborough Shoal, which lies only 230km. from the Philippines, but 840 km. from China, has been shown as Philippine territory since Spanish colonial times. This map, from 1820, shows the island, then known as 'Bajo Scarboro," as a part of Zambales Province. 

Regional risk shall continue to increase in the South China Sea, so long as China keeps asserting dominance over the entire area, creating diplomatic tensions with the Philippines, Vietnam, and all the other Southeast Asia nations over the Spratley Islands, small uninhabited atolls that abut the strategic north-south maritime trade route. The United States has intentionally insinuated itself into the disputes, much to the obvious displeasure of China, to level the playing field, regarding negotiations as well as military capability in the area. Will there be an international incident that rises to the level of armed conflict ? We cannot say, but we will be monitoring the situation closely.

* The Chinese call it Huangyan Island.

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