原文标题： The tiny nation that is taking on China
It’s those Chinese fishing vessels again. Last month they ventured into a shoal in the South China Sea, presumably hunting for giant clams, when they were apprehended by the Philippines’ naval patrols.
If the Philippines claims the Scarborough shoal — a few hectares worth of low-lying rocks 200 kilometres from its shores — China claims the entire South China Sea as its own. In what has become a familiar pattern over the last few years, the Chinese fishing vessels triggered off a confrontation that quickly escalated into a maritime and diplomatic standoff. Chinese tourists left the Philippines, and Filipino bananas face an uncertain prospect now in clearing China’s food safety tests.
The two countries are now trying to back off at this time, but not before the ‘W’ word surfaced in the popular discourse.
War? Over some uninhabited rocks in the middle of nowhere? Between China (GDP $7.3 trillion, defence budget $106.4 billion) and the Philippines (GDP $213 billion, defence budget $2.3 billion)? Who would want it?
Not China. While it certainly wants to keep its territorial claims alive by letting intrepid fishing vessels do to South China Sea islands what dogs do to lamp posts, it knows that an outright military conflict will be counterproductive to its longer-term interests.
Provocative fishing vessels and Beijing’s aggressive diplomatic posturing over maritime boundaries have already caused East Asian countries to look at the United States, India and other powers for support. In case China finds itself in a war with the Philippines, opposition to Beijing will consolidate, and the United States will make strategic inroads into the region, making it harder for China to achieve its goal of dominating the Western Pacific.
The US too does not want a war. It has a military alliance with the Philippines, and Manila could call upon US support if it is attacked. Washington is understandably reluctant to let itself be dragged into a war against a great power by a small ally over a tiny issue. The Obama administration has signalled that territorial disputes are outside the scope of the defence pact. Even so, if it is seen as shirking from supporting its ally, the value of Washington’s strategic promissory notes in East Asia will sharply depreciate. It cannot, however, support its ally without provoking Beijing. A war would cause the US to choose between losing its reputation and getting into an unwanted confrontation with China.
Most East Asian countries do not want war either. They have spent the last decade attempting to engineer “regional security architectures” — essentially multilateral forums that discuss security issues — that hope to solve tricky geopolitical disputes without being bullied and without having to fight.
Yet for all its achievements, the Association of South East Asian Nations has little to show in terms of ability to manage armed conflict, even between its member states. Thailand, for instance, has stonewalled the deployment of Indonesian military observers over its border dispute with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple.
Nor has ASEAN been very vocal in insisting that China comply with the code of conduct in the South China Sea they agreed to in 2002. Its member states are unlikely to want their solidarity to be put to the kind of test that a China-Philippines naval conflict would entail.
What about the Philippines itself? For Manila, maritime boundaries in the South China Sea assume an economic significance that goes beyond nationalistic sentiment over territory. The seabed is supposed to have rich reserves of oil and natural gas, although estimates vary. The technology to exploit natural gas fields in the South China Sea is maturing.
China National Offshore Oil Corporation already has semi-submersible deep sea drilling platforms. Manila has its eyes on healthy revenue streams from energy exports, which can make a substantial difference to its fiscal position and overall economic health.
This, coupled with the security guarantee the Philippines enjoys by virtue of its alliance with the US, has caused it to stand firm and confront China. So much so that Dai Bingguo, one of Beijing’s top foreign policy hands, accused the Philippines, “a smaller country”, of bullying China. He has a point. As China’s leaders ought to know all too well, small countries that are backed by great powers have disproportionate negotiating power, and they “bully” both their adversaries and their backers. The Philippines might calculate that it has relatively less to lose by letting tensions escalate.
That’s the main risk — when pesky fishing boats, Chinese law enforcement vessels and Philippines naval ships are facing off each other, an accidental trigger can cause an unintentional escalation. Given the turbulence in China’s civil-military relations ahead of this autumn’s leadership transition, and the numerous Chinese state agencies engaged in the South China Sea, the risk of escalation is higher on its side. The onus, therefore, is on Beijing to keep a lid on the tensions.
India needs to keep expanding its diplomatic efforts in region
by Grizzly (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 04:27 PM | Hide replies
India should keep engaged with the countries in our region to keep a healthy balance of power.
Times like these give us a precious opportunity
Re: India needs to keep expanding its diplomatic efforts in regio
by Pat Thakur (View MyPage) on May 26, 2012 07:57 AM
India is a Born Loser. It’s Gone…..
india should supply brahmos to taiwan & philippines
by ravi prasad (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 02:01 PM | Hide replies
India should supply 1000 brahmos to each taiwan and philippines and it has to supply airlaunched version to both the countries after testing
Re: india should supply brahmos to taiwan & philippines
by Janarddan (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 02:56 PM
China has larger and more tested weaponry.
They will supply it to Pakistan, Myanmar, SriLanka and Bangladesh.
Re: Re: india should supply brahmos to taiwan & philippines
by Ram Singh (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 03:31 PM
We are not afraid of those Countries and our army is good enough to fk them.
Re: Re: Re: india should supply brahmos to taiwan & philippin
by Venugopalan (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 04:59 PM
there is no doubt that we got one of best army in the world..but do we have enough brahmos for ourselves..? the sea launched version will take a longer time, for inducting in navy..we ourselves are facing the shortage… supplying to foreign countries is a far cry . as for China there are thousands of warheads ready to be exported..
by Sachin Kshirsagar (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 01:29 PM | Hide replies
freedom of yunnan, tib%t and xinjinag is must.
let help Philippines to make nuke as chinese supported pak
by Venugopalan (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 05:01 PM
Philippines is like a colony of the US..they do not need n weapon
by Communal Award (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 01:21 PM
India should learn from China.
China rejected US hegemony and is paying in yuan to Iran to import $20-30 billion worth crude oil every year.
China a very avaricious nation!
by Venkatesa Prabhu (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 11:38 AM
China is a very avaricious nation, with occupationist intentions and aggressive tendencies. Unless nations like Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea stand firm, the chinese dragon will swallow everything in its way. And get more aggressive with other nations in the South East Asia. Only nations like USA can slow down the nefarious ambitions of the dragon.
by raman govindan (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 11:16 AM
Germany, Japan and Italy wanted market and allies during the pre WWII, who will do their bidding. they waged the war to achieve the end and failed.
fortunate for USA and It’s west European allies, several countries even if though they had sufferred under the colonolialism of UK, France, Spain, Portugal, they provided moral and logistic support to them . they thought of the the better of the evil.
China follows the lead given by the axis powers. it expects that being the biggest one by virtue of it’s mono cultural/ethnicity, and the number one in the population in the world, it can tide over the difficultiies experienced by the axis powers.
history repeats and and sometimes provides surprises.
by Shake Hasina (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 11:15 AM | Hide replies
Instead of SCS lets all start calling it
South Of China Sea (SOCS)
and we’ll soon see a sea-change in the
attitude of the wily red dragon-fox.
by Gajanan (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 01:26 PM
by om shanti (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 10:35 AM | Hide replies
Hangyuan_Island belongs to China.It is nothing new.
Philipinos_are lazy people and one fine morning they wake up and chase chinese_fisherman from fishing near the island.At whose_behest ? They have no_guts.They are banking on America.It may be a proxy war !
by ravinder khatana (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 02:37 PM
Om Shanti Om, did you got your chinese yellow card or still in process?
by desi twist (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 12:12 PM
Om shanti, you need to get your facts right. Filpinos are actually quite hard working. They form a significant chunk of working class in places like Emirates and in fact in US too. They are good in spoken English and lot of call centres operate off Philipines. They are a strong upcoming nation.
I dont think they are chasing chinese fisherman starting one fine morning. It is actually China which off late has become a little aggressive and assertive in South Chna Sea…
by Chanakya (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 09:48 AM
Tibet is ready to support against China’s bossy nature.
THE WORLD OVER
by Kolappa Pillai (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 09:37 AM
China is dominating that they become super power while United States thinks that they can fight better. The small nation Philipines is having its to face a mighty enemy.
China is a bully
by Ramesh Dodani (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 09:23 AM | Hide replies
Just for a small territory China is loosing the goodwill of philipinos even other Asean countries will draw closer to USA. Im sure more philipinos will want not to buy chinese goods
This issue would not have come up had Philipines let USA use its base & not asked them to close down long back
Re: China is a bully
by Debasish Sarkar (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 09:43 AM
Well said. Commie Chinese are over doing and unjustifiably which is unacceptable to us. Better unite all South and South-East Asian Countries and kick out this Nemesis out of south China Seas.
Re: Re: China is a bully
by Chanakya (View MyPage) on May 25, 2012 09:51 AM