About Me

My photo
This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Standoff at Second Thomas Shoal -- By Walter Russell Mead & Staff, The American Thinker

Philippine marines monitor the situation at Ayungin Shoal from a purposely grounded landing ship tank (LST), BRP 57 Sierra Madre. (PA)On a rusting hulk of a ship half sunk near a remote reef in the South China Sea, the great geopolitical game for the future of Asia is being waged. And hardly anyone is paying attention.

Earlier this month, while everyone was watching Ukraine, China made its move. For the first time in 15 years, Chinese coast guard ships prevented the Philippines from resupplying the handful of lonely soldiers who keep watch from the rusting deck of the Sierra Madre. The Philippine navy ran the old ship aground on Second Thomas shoal (“Ayungin” to the Philippines), in 1999 in retaliation for China’s occupation of a nearby reef a few years earlier. The two countries have stood guard, warily watching and waiting ever since. For the most part they leave each other alone. A New York Times reporter who visited the ship and its Filipino guards last year observed two Chinese ships as they circled like sharks; the message, he wrote, was clear: “We see you, we’ve got our eye on you, we are here.”

Beijing sent a more direct message on March 9. Claiming that the Philippines’ ships were ”loaded with construction materials” intended to build up a more solid position on Ayungin, the Chinese coast guard stopped the resupply mission. The Philippines retorted that it was sending provisions to the marines “to improve the conditions there,” and promptly sent aircraft to drop the supplies onto the Sierra Madre instead. Those airdrops will continue, the government said. “It is but our duty to provide for our own troops,” one official told the Philippine Star. “These are Filipino settlements.”

Technically, China preventing the Philippines’ resupply ships violates the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which China signed. Both Manila and Washington reacted angrily: ”This is a provocative move that raises tensions,” said a State Department spokeswoman. ”Our 62-year alliance with the Philippines remains key to our efforts to ensure the stability and prosperity of the Western Pacific,” declared the commander of the US Pacific forces.

Though Ayungin is basically uninhabited and can hardly even be called a landmass, its importance in the geopolitical competition between China and its neighbors shouldn’t be understated.

 (Click link below to read more)
READ MORE Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment