International Tensions Remain Over Spratly Islands

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International Tensions Remain Over Spratly Islands

The Spratly Islands remains to be the center of contention for the United States, the Philippines, and China. With China claiming sovereignty over a mass majority of the islands, its activity within the last 2 years have raised questions among officials in the US. Adding the volatile Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte to that mix is a difficult situation for all.

Ignoring attempts by international powers to diffuse China’s claims over the Spratly islands, China boldly produced artificial islands by pumping up sand through the Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs from the sea floor, then added in “facilities” and “runways”. (See list below of previous reports)

Stars and Stripes’ Wyatt Olson writes;

“U.S. Officials protested, describing the activities as militarization and a threat to freedom of the seas…”

“This a long- term geopolitical poker game that’s being played out there,” says Mohan Malik, a China expert and professor at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu according to Stars and Stripes. “It’s not about rocks and reefs. It’s not about history. It’s not about the (court) verdict. It’s about the future of the regional order: Pax Sinica versus Pax Americana. And that’s going to go on for a long period of time.”

Stars and Stripes also reports that “in August the Chinese defense minister “called for a ‘peoples war at sea’.”

Duterte’s  ‘Detente’

Now, the newly sworn in President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, took matters into his own hands in brandishing a new relationship between the Philippines and China, which can potentially cause more damage to the relationship it has with the US and its current agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, regarding US military activity in the Spratly Islands.

“I’m going to China to make friends with them and also with Russia,” said President Duterte according to CNN. “I am ready to not really break ties [with America] but we will open alliances with China and…. Medveddev [Russia].”

Tensions between the United States and the Philippines are already apparent due to President Duterte’s recent announcement of his desire to separate from the United States.

Now, with new agreements with China, Philippines fisherman are able to fish through the Spratly Islands without the harassment of the Chinese military.

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