HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM?
South China Sea Dispute
CLINTON VISIT BRINGS U.S. NEUTRALITY DOUBTS
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a recent visit to China has finally publicly raised the issue of settling the China Sea territorial issues without the use of force by China. She has also suggested to states such as the Philippines and Indonesia that a united front should be maintained against Chinese insistence on dealing with each claimant nation individually. The Chinese government controlled media has been seriously critical of the U.S. position as articulated by Mrs Clinton. Our neutrality in the dispute has been seriously attacked.
Below is a link to some of the press coverage:
OPINION: We just plain don't like Mrs. Clinton or this Administration for a wide variety of policy disagreements that we have with them. But not liking an administration has never stopped us from agreeing with a policy when its right. We are neutral in terms of who gets what island or the exact limits of Exclusive Economic Zones in the South China Sea. We can not be neutral about our right under international law of free transit and innocent passage through great parts of it. The insistence of China on dealing with individual weaker states is nothing more than divide and conquer bullying. If you have been following our series "HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM" you'll recall that we opened with a video of Chinese gun boats machine gunning to death dozens of unarmed Vietnamese Navy sailors over a disputed shoal much closer to Vietnam than any point in China. The Administration has more than just the high moral ground on this. Our national interest in the trade route depends on denying China it's claim to the entire China Sea as a private lake. If we allow the Dragon to continue to bully its claim right to the beach of the Philippines we will end up paying tolls to China for all of our commerce going to and from the Indian Ocean.
The biggest problem facing the Administration is getting the various claimant nations and interested parties to cooperate. For example the Philippines and Vietnam have territorial disputes with China, but also with each other. The powerful and astute Indian Navy has decided to stay out of the issues for the time being. We find that unfortunate because no one has more to lose if the Chinese turn the China Sea into a Chinese Lake than India since it will also be her trade to and from the Pacific that will be tolled, and their Navy bottled up in terms of handy Pacific outlets.
Oddly China has to pay attention to the U.S. position. We have defense agreements with Japan and the Philippines. If the Dragon were to subject the Philippines or Japan to the kind of treatment it gave Vietnam, our Pacific Fleet would get pulled into the dispute. Make no mistake the Dragon is working frantically to build a naval force that could actually defeat our Pacific fleet but its not fear of naval defeat that requires China to pay attention to us.
The Chinese hold enough U.S. debt to sink their economy. Should war break out, or should we be able to legitimately accuse them of even a single act of war against us, we could suspend, or cancel our debt to a nation we are in a "state of war " or even "recognized belligerency" with and experience little or no negative effects on our international credit rating. It would be the collapse of their economy without a shot fired. It could be the rebirth of our own economy. Morally war should always be a very last resort, and unforeseen consequences come with every action. But we can not afford to allow the Dragon to run rough shod over its neighbors and swallow the China Sea. We can't do that not only because China's claims and actions so far have been legally and morally wrong, but because its not in our national interest to allow the status quo to continue.
So the bottom line is that while we disagree with this Administration on about 9 out every 10 issues they have this one right. To Mrs Clinton we say: It's true that we don't trust you any farther than we can throw an elephant, and personally we find you as disagreeable as a dose of castor oil, but on this issue:
"YOU GO GIRL!"