China in the South China Sea

The New York Times today publishes a video feature showing the Chinese building of an artificial island in Philippine sea territory and on that island an air and possibly naval base. All in the course of a year. It also shows that China and others, mainly the Philippines and Vietnam, are competing to establish themselves in contested territories in the South China Sea. The article is here.

This is a VERY DANGEROUS situation. The area has been tense for a long time but that tension has increased radically under the leadership of Xi Jinping. Immediately on taking up office, they ‘upgraded’ the Chinese position in the East and South China Seas to one of ‘core interest,’ a message that China will do as it wants in these areas and that there will be no settlements by mediation. That position is repeated on every opportunity, such as by the defence minister, Chang Wanquan, in an exchange with the US defence secretary Chuck Hagel in Beijing on the 8th of April 2014, the official policy being ‘no compromise, no concession, no treaty.’

Now China is doing as it wants, by force of ‘might is right,’ and has established itself as an aggressive and expansionist state, at least in its own neighborhood.