28 March 2014

China Prevents PHL From Resupplying Base

Ayungin Shoal
During his speech before the U.N.General Assembly on 10 April 1974, Deng Xiaoping said that, "If one day China should change her color and turn into super power, if China would play the tyrant in the world and everywhere subject to others of her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the citizens of China and the world should identify her as a social-imperialistic, the Chinese people should expose, oppose and work with the world to punish the abusive ruler."

Apparently that statement is untrue. Instead of taking a stand and help the world fight off the bully, China has turned into one.

Knowing full well the a country such as the Philippines is too weak to stand against its aggressive stand, China threatened to use armed force to stop two Philippine vessels -- small civilian boats -- from resupplying food to a small, rusting and old sunken ship that stood as a garrison of eight men stationed on Second Thomas, a tiny shoal near the Philippines' Palawan Island. Outgunned, the Philippines are resorting to an airlift, while the Chinese accuse the Filipinos of "infringing China's territorial sovereignty."

China's Hainan Island is about 1,000 miles away. Second Thomas is 105 nautical miles from Palawan, well within the Philippines' accepted 200-mile exclusive economic zone, or EEZ.

Second Thomas is only the latest hotspot in China's mapping of its infamous "nine-dash line," staking questionable claims to islands and seabeds not only from the Philippines, but also Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Chinese have a name for their strategy in the South China Sea: Cabbage.

Major General Zhang Zhaozhong of the People's Liberation Army has described his method of surrounding the small shoals and islands with layers of ships and boats -- impenetrable, indigestible layers of cabbage.

The U.S. has declined to take sides in the South China Sea disputes over sovereignty, but lately has stiffened its criticism of Chinese tactics. The new assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, Danny Russel, was outspoken in recent testimony to Congress, and China shouted back.

What next? When the Philippines refused to move a sunken ship from Second Thomas, an irate Chinese spokesman in Beijing, Hong Lei of the Foreign Ministry, said in effect: "Prepare for consequences."

The popular Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, known as Noynoy, remains firm. Comparing the Chinese aggression to pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, which was dismembered piecemeal, Aquino asks: "At what point do you say enough is enough?"

Aquino is disliked by the Chinese, who preferred his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, who is currently facing corruption charges. Aquino is from a strong and distinguished political family. His mother Corazon Aquino was president; his father Senator Benigno (Nonoy) Aquino Jr., was jailed, then assassinated on the airport tarmac when returning in 1983.

China is now so intent on its pursuit of Second Thomas shoal that, when it decided to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, it met delays because so much seapower was focused on the Philippines.

Second Thomas Shoal is called Ayungin by the Philippines, Ren'ai Reef by the Chinese.