Spratly issue and the US-RP War Games
Disclaimer: I don’t really like talking about politics or anything that has to do with international relations or serious stuff like that cause 1. I get a huge headache after and 2. I came from a political family and 3. I hear politics everyday from my relatives so you could just imagine how many times I had to excuse myself whenever I hear my Lolo (RIP) and my other relatives start talking about it. So why am I writing this? I just want to express my thoughts on the ongoing issue with the Spratly group of islands and what my stand is about the matter. Cause let’s face it… it’s really interesting to find out what is it really about and what others think of the big bad bully which is China! Hahaha!
Recently there was an incident where in the University of the Philippines website was hacked. Unapproved information on the China claim over Spratly was unknowingly uploaded to the website. This resulted to the web administrators to take the website down for a day to regain control. A few days after a number of Chinese websites were reportedly hacked and speculations have been going around that Filipino hackers are behind this as a means of getting back for what happened to the UP website.
U.S. and Philippine commandos yesterday waded ashore in a mock assault to retake a small island in the disputed waters with China. This drill involving thousands of troops from both countries which according to Beijing would raise the risk of armed conflict. The exercise is part of the annual US-RP war games on the southwestern island of Palawan. So what’s the problem holding a drill like this in that part of Palawan? Well this is very close to where the Spratly islands are. Right now China has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan across the South China Sea, each searching for gas and oil while building up their navies and military alliances. China express their fear of confrontation last week if the drill will proceed. On Wednesday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said China was committed to dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the dispute.
Right now the Spratlys are claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.
China, which claims the South China Sea based on historical records to be entirely theirs. Which means China is saying that all the islands and islets on that vast area are theirs. The Philippine only has claims over a small part of that area which is closest to Palawan, clearly within the border of the country. This is where it becomes tricky. If the Philippines will not assert its rights over that area then what will stop China from claiming that the Philippines is part of its territory? China is starting to really get on my nerves. I wouldn’t blame the Philippine government for making sure that alliances with the US and other powerful nations is in place in case a war does happen (which I hope it doesn’t).
So what’s the fuss? Why are so many countries trying to claim these islands?
The answer is HUGE OIL and GAS RESERVES. You heard me right!
Here’s an article from Reuters regarding the drill
Proven and undiscovered oil reserve estimates in the South China Sea range as high as 213 billion barrels of oil, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a 2008 report. That would surpass every country’s proven oil reserves except Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, according to the BP Statistical Review
A Philippine exploration firm, Philex Petroleum Corp, said on Tuesday its unit, Forum Energy Plc, had found more natural gas than expected around Reed Bank, where Chinese navy vessels tried to ram one of Forum Energy’s survey ships last year.
The Philippines is due to open oil-and-gas exploration bids in Reed Bank on Friday.
Vietnam reasserted its claim to the Spratlys and the Paracel islands, known in Chinese as the Xisha islands, further west of Scarborough Shoal in what it calls the East Sea.
Self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province, reiterated its claims over territories in the South China Sea and urged “countries concerned to exercise self-restraint so that peaceful resolutions can be reached through consultation”.
Jumping from rubber boats as they hit the shore, the commandos engaged in a mock firefight, making their way inch by inch from the beach to a navy facility to rescue “hostages” and recapture the base.
Four days ago, commando teams rappelled from U.S. helicopters and landed from rubber boats in a mock assault to retake an oil rig in the northern part of Palawan, 18 km (11 miles) off the town of El Nido on the South China Sea.
The annual war games come under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, part of a web of security alliances the United States built-in the Asia-Pacific region during the Cold War.
The drills are a rehearsal of a mutual defense plan by the two allies to repel any aggression in the Philippines.
Hundreds of kilometers to the north, a Philippine coast guard ship patrols near Scarborough Shoal, a group of half-submerged rock formations 124 nautical miles west of the main Luzon island, where Chinese fishermen were accosted by Philippine officials three weeks ago, sparking the latest conflict between the two countries.
Manila officials say Chinese response on the Scarborough shoal issue was “based on inaccurate appreciation of the fact and dynamics of the negotiations.”
I do hope that this doesn’t result to an arms conflict with other Asian countries. Definitely something that I wouldn’t want to experience. Hopefully the United Nations come to a conclusion that would be favorable to everyone and the governments of all the nations concerned would come to an agreement regarding the matter soon.