How would it strike Americans if the US went to war with China over less than 5 miles of land? Answer that, then take this into consideration – imagine that 5 miles of land is broken up between 750 different types of ‘land’ in the middle of the South China sea and is thousands of miles away from the US. Do you think you would agree that we should war over such things? Regardless of the answers you just gave, read the rest of this article and then ask yourself that same question.
The Spratly Islands in the South China Sea consist of roughly 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands. The islands’ total land mass comes to between 1.5 and 5 miles – between all of the islands – depending on the tide. The Spratly Islands have been the focal point of tension between China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. In fact, back in 1988 there was a naval battle between China and Vietnam which resulted in the deaths of 64 Vietnamese sailors.
China claims that Vietnamese military members attempted to erect a flag on one of the islands, an argument ensued, and the Vietnamese Navy opened fire. Vietnam claims the flag had already been erected. They also claim that military ships from China were being provocative and harassing the Vietnamese ships in an attempt to create the need for Chinese ships to ‘occupy’ the islands as a preventative measure. In an effort to protect the flag, the Vietnamese sent a small boat to the island to get unarmed soldiers on the ground – China did the same. According to Vietnam, the Chinese warships opened fire on two of the Vietnamese ships and sank them both. Vietnam claims that China then attacked the soldiers that encircled the island. The fighting continued until all the soldiers were killed. Vietnam also claims the Chinese refused to allow Red Cross ships from tending to the wounded or to gather the deceased soldiers.
That’s obviously a very shortened version of what happened that day, but it was to illustrate how important these islands seem to be to the Asian countries in the South Pacific. The islands are bastions for marine life, as well as valuable oil and minerals – this is probably why every country in the area wishes to lay claim to the islands. Keep in mind, these arguments have been going on for more than 100 years now as each country has its own ‘story’ behind why it’s theirs and not the other country’s property. Unfortunately for Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, China has the most well organized and technologically advanced military – they also have the money to handle such a task as fortifying the islands.
After the incident between Vietnam and China, China has moved towards non-militaristic solutions, but they have also taken it upon themselves to build up these islands, and even create new ones. China is currently dredging dirt from the ocean floor and spitting it back up to create islands, one of them being an unsinkable aircraft carrier. Yes, one of the islands has a landing strip that can, apparently, accept any kind of ship. This is a strategic military position for China and they wish to control that area militarily.If you look at the map, you will see the location of one of these islands:
If you’ll notice the location, and the extension of the continental shelf. If anyone claimed these islands as their own, it would either be Malaysia or the Philippines (but don’t tell the Chinese government I said that).
And of course, the United States has had its nose in the middle of this for some time. No, they haven’t really sided with anyone – although they have claimed to back the Philippine claim of ownership, but has yet to provide any actual support to the Philippine government in order to control that region. But now, after realizing China is building military bases in the middle of the South China Sea, the United States is very concerned.
The United States has started to perform regular flights over the islands to gather intel, and every time this happens, the Chinese make it abundantly clear that the US is not welcome. I will embed the audio clip of an incident regarding one of these flights. I can imagine the American military was clenching some cheeks at this time – anyway, listen to it (and as an added bonus for being a patron of my site, I will add a video of the flight as well):
Now that we have the background of this region, the issues and purposes of the islands, and some proof of international tension between the US, it’s time to get to the meat’n’potatoes of this article.
Obama and Chinese officials have been at odds over China’s construction for years now, but it seems to be coming to a head. Our government is afraid that if China creates a base in the region that aircraft and ships will be restricted from the area based on Chinese offensive threats and defensive posturing. China claims to be creating the bases as a way to switch from a largely defensive military stance to an offensive military stance. China is an emerging superpower after all, and historically, superpowers show their strength via military might and/or economic prowess against other countries – China is no different.
But Obama continues asking China to cease construction. So the Chinese military papers released these quotes in the last couple of days:
We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it.
Then they took that a step further by saying:
if the United States’ bottom line is that China is to halt activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea
I recently created a YouTube clip regarding this situation, which you can watch below if you’d like:
However, after further investigating the history behind all this, I will have to say that it would be irresponsible for the US to push this until a war breaks out. In life, we must pick our battles and this is no different. This is not a battle worth fighting, because it is not our land, not our part of the globe, and is more of a local issue than an international issue. Like the US, China has an obligation to its citizens to do what it can to protect its own. We do it all the time (although most of what we do I disagree with almost entirely). The issue of China building a base in the S. China Sea should be one that is diplomatically resolved between the actual parties that will be affected: Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines. We have no dog in this fight and Obama needs to stop posturing. China is going to carry this out and the completion of these islands is far from an international crisis, so bringing it to a war would be irresponsible and full of nothing but ego.
This also marks the end of US dominance and the beginning of Chinese dominance. We really have no pull around the globe anymore thanks to 30 years of horrific Presidents and even worse legislation. Starting from Reagan and ending with Obama, this nation has been destroyed from within and this is the proof that we aren’t the Supreme leader of the world anymore — but that’s as it should be; we should have given that up many years ago.