Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Second, this atoll could start a China Sea war with the US.

By b0oua Jun 26, 2024

Around the tiny Second Thomas Atoll, which China and the Philippines have claimed, tensions are growing. Beijing no longer backs down from using violence to enforce its territorial claims in the China Sea, as evidenced by events that occurred just one week ago. even if it implies running the risk of an all-out conflict with the US.

A Chinese coast guard squadron attacked a Philippine supply ship on Monday, June 17, using axes, knives, and spears as weapons. A video released by Manila showed that the attackers staged a real-life crash against the backdrop of a territorial dispute between the two Asian countries, stealing guns and pillaging navigational aids. During the altercation, a Filipino sailor lost his thumb. Beijing has once again displayed violence, this time on a long-ignored front that has grown to be the new source of friction between China, its neighbors, and the US along with Taiwan.

Combat for an atoll

Discord brings to mind the historic, catastrophic military sieges of the past. China and the Philippines both claim Second Thomas Reef, a tiny atoll in the South China Sea. In addition to being teeming with fish, the nearby waters may also have submerged natural gas and oil reserves. In 1999, in an effort to bolster its claims against China’s growing number of manmade islands, particularly on the nearby Mischief Reef, the Philippines willingly beached a landing vessel, the BRP Sierra Madre, on the Third Thomas. This was previously an American military vessel that saw action in both the Second World War and the Vietnam War. It has been flying the Philippine flag since 1976. Its most recent task is to act as a beachhead for about ten sailors who, much like The Lost Patrol in the John Ford movie, had to defend this “fort” against Chinese naval attacks at all costs. The Sierra Madre is sinking and needs regular reinforcement; time is not on our side.

Subsequently, Manila has been providing this small military force piecemeal, though with growing difficulty as the Chinese navy expands its presence in the South China Sea around Second Thomas, hopping from artificial island to artificial island. Supply boat stamping, water cannon attack, and reef blockade… However, a collision or a physical confrontation between soldiers was forbidden by the Chinese Coast Guard. Up until Monday of last week.

Japan at the top

From now on, the only thing lacking is the lighting of matches to ignite the area with these skirmishes. According to their mutual defense treaty, the Philippines and the United States must support one another in the case of a military assault in the South China Sea. A scenario that pretty well matches the attack on Monday. We are extremely close to classifying the deliberate killing of a Filipino citizen as an act of war. Thank God, we have not yet reached the point where one of our protagonists—civilian or otherwise—has been killed, even though there have already been injuries. At the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum a few days ago, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued a warning: “If that happens, we will have crossed the Rubicon.” “We refuse to succumb to threats,” he reiterated on Sunday.

A rare display of pugnacity on the part of the Japanese Foreign Ministry illustrates the regional scope of this dispute: “As stated in the Joint Vision Statement of the leaders of Japan, the Philippines, and the United States in April 2024, the Japanese government is concerned about illegal maritime claims and firmly opposes the dangerous and coercive use of coast guard vessels and maritime militias in the South China Sea.” For the first time, soldiers from the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines conducted coordinated military exercises off the coast of the Philippines in April.

By b0oua

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