By now many know about the naval standoff between the Philippines and China. What started out as Philippine marines halting 12 illegal Chinese fishing vessels and promptly arresting the crews on board after discovering illegally caught fish from Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal immediately transformed into a broader dispute involving territory and politics.
A pair of Chinese ships soon arrived to the scene preventing a Philippine warship from arresting the Chinese fishing crews.
It has now been three whole days since and both sides have sent a couple of warships of their own to the site of dispute with seemingly no breakthrough in diplomacy.
According to Chinese authorities on the matter, the fishermen were apparently “harassed” by the Philippines. Then Chinese press officials stated that the Philippines had blocked the Chinese fishermen from seeking shelter in tumultuous weather.
This is of course, blatant lying but for China, which claims the nearby seas, it is necessary lying.
This new conflict between the Philippines and China actually shows an even bigger dispute between China and the rest of the ocean-hugging Asian countries. A conflict that cannot be solved with compromise for the time being due to numerous factors.
For the past couple of years now, China has been staking claim to numerous areas of water including certain spots suspected to be rich in oil and marine life in the South China Sea.
Of course, other countries including Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and a few others are in complete disagreement with China when it comes to where the boundaries should be drawn.
What doesn’t help the territorial dispute is China’s constant harassment of naval vessels belonging to other sovereign nations and high profile cases of arrests of Chinese fishermen who were caught within the maritime borders of other countries.
In numerous cases, China was the instigator by actually preventing ships from fishing in what is supposed to be their respective countries’ waters and even preventing ships from hired companies carrying out their work in scouting out possible abundance of oil.
This dispute that has pitted China against its neighbors spans all the way from the Yellow Sea to the notorious Mekong River.
In recent months, countries fed up with China’s behavior exhibited more aggression towards the country to show a “we’ve had it” message.
Vietnam in particular actually held naval and artillery exercises very near disputed waters which shocked and then outraged the Chinese government.
Officials from Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines are actually working to completely change the names of certain bodies of water such as “South China Sea” which could trivially weaken China’s claims.
Meanwhile, the growth or presence of nationalism and wariness towards China in many of these countries are backing moves against China which has been increasingly forcing the countries’ governments to stand their ground so as not to lose their own claims and the backing of their voters.
So it goes to show that even if the current diplomatic/territorial dispute between the Philippines & China is resolved peacefully, there will be many more disputes with varying degrees of severity in the very near future.
(Cover Photo: AFP/Getty Images)