WHEN THE DRAGON ISN'T SWIMMING IN YOUR POOL IT'S NESTING
Photo by Andrew Schmitt http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=7554&picture=oil-drilling-platform
The Dragon, never satisfied with its own territorial waters and recognized exclusive economic zone is determined to take everything in its vicinity up to and including the actual territorial waters of its neighbors. China is now expanding its biggest illegal installation in the disputed Spratly Islands into a fully formed artificial island, a far cry from the petroleum industry "artificial island depicted above. The Dragon is thinking in terms of a real estate like fully formed island , not with a helicopter pad but an air strip. This is a military base we are talking about here, not an offshore mineral exploration base. Chinese military authorities are quite clear on the purpose of the island as a base of military operations. The planned expansion on the disputed Fiery Cross Reef is not yet approved by the political authorities. If approved it will demonstrate a change in tack in China's long running illegal ocean territorial claims to a clearly military offensive one. The Dragon just doesn't seem to get it. As long as it continues to attempt ideas like this, the kind of artificial island that china really needs to appear in the region, one that does look like the drilling rig above, won't come. No international organization, and none of China's neighbors recognize their claim to the entire South and East China seas or the entire Yellow Sea region including Japan's recognized southern most islands. Even if China simply takes it all by force no one will want to pay for an exploration or production lease from them when everyone knows their title is tainted big time.
Last month the Philippines protested against the Dragon's reclamation activities at nearby Johnson South Reef. There in 1988 Chinese navy ships turned anti aircraft guns on 63 unarmed Vietnamese sailors who were attempting to display their flag on the reef killing them all and sinking the ship they came there on. The Philippine protest was triggered by the Chinese activities at the Fiery Cross Atoll. Vietnam not having allies and hardly likely to seek U.S. protection has learned the price of resistance to the Dragon. The Dragon appears likely to allow Vietnam to keep its 12 mile territorial sea, but some of its claims in Philippine waters run up to the Philippine main island beaches. Reclamation of the Fiery Cross atoll is environmentally damaging to the reef's coral.. The development is arrogant in light of the fact that the reef is outside any distance from the Chinese mainland that might give the Dragon a legitimate claim but close enough to the Philippines,and Vietnam for them to dispute each others claims legitimately Bit of course the Dragon has silenced Vietnam..
The proposal by the military to build the artificial island has been submitted to Bejing. The Island would be about 80 square kilometers or about double the size of the U.S. occupied, British owned Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean. The present Chinese constructions on the reef house an ill advised UNESCO INTERGOVERNMENTAL OCEANOGRAPHIC COMMISSION OBSERVATION POST. This was one really ill conceived UN move appearing to give some legitimacy to Chinese aggression.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy
One of the Dragon's most aggressive moves of late was the establishment of an air traffic identification zone over Japanese island territories at least one Chinese source maintains that the air strip will allow China to establish an air craft identification zone over the entire South China Sea. This development can only cause more friction between China and her neighbors and further delay the joint development of the area, the very thing that China most needs. The Central Chinese Government has an easy out however if it wishes to ratchet down tensions, cite the environmental issues involved in burying a coral reef and back out. China is of course a thug state so don't hold your breath.
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