The South Sea of China; At The Helm of The Art of Diplomacy

China is dredging waters off it’s coast and expanding its land mass. The US is nervous because they believe it is a ‘ploy’ to create a greater military presence over the waters which the US claims are international.

So that’s the story, but what does it all mean?

The South China Sea is more of an inlet that is bordered by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Brunei. The area is home to vast oil and gas reserves. While the Chinese government demarcated a dotted line of territory sometime in 1949, it only came under dispute in the 1970’s when The Philippines and Malaysia wanted a fair share. Given that the strait is not just a potential for oil and gas but also serves as a fishing center and a major shipping territory, the dispute heightened. By the 1990’s Brunei and Vietnam also made a claim to the waters.

An agreement was signed between Vietnam and China. But just two months later India stated that Vietnam had sold to it rights to engage in oil and gas exploration within areas that had been retained by China. That didn’t go over well.

In the meantime, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines and Taiwan have quietly been building their own maritime defensives in the sea. Nothing was said. But China was tired of the games and out-sized them all building land masses that dwarfed their neighbors. Everyone became miffed because China’s aggression was bigger and better.

Enter McCain. McCain has a penchant for stoking aggression. He also has a penchant for butting into regime change agendas. Granted that will never happen in China, but coup disruption has plagued Malaysia of late, Thailand, and a failed coup in The Philippines within just the last year. So McCain’s solution is to allow for the US exchange of weapons to Vietnam, a communist Marxist regime, for the purpose of standing up against China. Really? Sort of reminds me of the Arab swordsman wielding an over-sized scimitar while fiercely challenging Indian Jones to his death only to be swiftly peeled away with one shot from his pistol.

US interference has absolutely no positive gain. If the US determines it has the right to step in as the divier of rights, much like the Israel and Palestine agenda, the US will not prevail. Adding tension to tension does not make for peace. But McCain has an ulterior agenda. Malaysia news makes no mention of the China dredging. In Vietnam, the US is pressuring their government to halt ‘wave erosion’ land reclamation. And while The Philippines news only makes reference to the concerns pressed by the US, it would seem that the Asian countries really haven’t much issue and that the issue is a US creation.

Perhaps the true concern is that the Asian countries will form an alliance that makes these waters restricted from US shipping. One third of the world’s liquified natural gas passes through the South China Sea. The bulk of it originates in the Persian Gulf. In 1994, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was ratified by most Asian countries in the maritime area. It defined rights and uses of natural resources in the area. The US did not sign the agreement. Unfortunately, by definition the rights that allow for a 200 nautical mile entitlement – overlap. Another oops factor of the UN.

Bottom line – we, the US do not have a lick of upper hand in this dispute. We do not have any legal rights whatsoever as we are not a party to the maritime treaty. What we do have is the ability to politely bow in deference to some countries who simply refuse to be policed by the US. Instigating further animosity with China will not be in our best interest – ever. Sometimes, it is simply best to remove ourselves from a situation that can not and will not have a positive outcome and pocket our ego.

In 1959 the art of diplomacy was over shadowed by the release of a game by the same name. It’s stated objective was:

“Luck plays no part in Diplomacy. Cunning and cleverness honesty and perfectly-timed betrayal are the tools needed to outwit your fellow players. The most skillful negotiator will climb to victory over the backs of both enemies and friends. Who do you trust?”

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