THE PHILIPPINES REITERATE THAT AYGUNGIN SHOAL ( AKA "2nd THOMAS REEF") IS PART OF THE PHILIPPINE CONTINENTAL SHELF, BEING NOT ONLY PART OF PHILIPPINE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE WATERS BY POSITION BUT PHILIPPINE OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF WATERS.
|Philippine Navy Photo: The Santa Maria as an air drop resupply target. Obviously air drop resupply potential is very limited.|
The Philippine government has finally told China that the SIERRA MADRE was deliberately placed on Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent naval outpost in response to China's illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995. Mischief reef is another semi submerged shoal in the South China Sea within the Philippine's UNCLOS (United Nations Law of the Sea Convention) defined Exclusive Economic Zone. At Mischief Reef armed Chinese fishery enforcement vessels and now the newly formed Chinese Coast Guard patrol around the shoal and allow in Chinese commercial fishing vessels in great numbers to pillage Philippine fish stocks. Needless to say Philippine fishing vessels are kept out.
The success of the Chinese theft of Mischief Reef led one Chinese general officer to pen an article in a Chines military journal extolling the "cabbage patch strategy" which we previously published about. The Chinese strategy is to quietly surround Philippine islands with Coast Guard craft and run off Philippine fishermen. Then Chinese fishermen are escorted in to pillage the area. According to the strategy any Philippine troops on any exposed land area or artificial structure will abandon the area without a shot fired due to starvation. Obviously they never considered that such a land area or artificial structure might be manned by the Marine Corps of the Philippines. They are MARINES people, they don't know how to give up. The Marines have been faithfully manning the Philippine Navy grounded and permanently moored SIERRA MADRE since 1999. Starved off? The have subsisted for months at a time on only the fish they could catch near the ship. Really in American terms that have more than met the standards we have come to expect of the U.S. Marine Corps and have begun to approach the tenacity levels of the Apache tribe. It is one thing to be circling at a distance an emplacement of a small squad of Philippine Marines for 15 years. It will be quite another thing when Chinese troops used to bullying unarmed fishermen and under gunned Vietnamese confront a real frontal assault for these marines. Now that the Philippines is not making any bones about their rightful EEZ /OCS claims China is going to have to admit that Mischief Reef was the aberration, and the Santa Maria is the norm. The cabbage patch offensive isn't going to work. First the Philippine armed forces are far more tenacious and disciplined than the Dragon thought. The gloves are off now that it is clear that China can't be reasoned with on this. Continued attempts at the cabbage patch strategy are only resulting in a stiffening of resistance.
Continued brinkmanship by China in pursuing its unlawful goals is only making the Middle Kingdom enemies in her own neighborhood. Such brinkmanship must inevitably, sooner or later lead to shooting. That is highly likely to start a war and will result in the instant crash of the Chinese economy and the end of the Communist Party in China. War with either the Philippines or Japan will end up being war with the Philippines and Japan declared or not. War with either will be war with the United States via operation of the existing defense treaties with both nations. None of the parties responding to China's act of war are going to threaten the Chinese mainland or general population, nor are they going to engage in a costly island hopping campaign to take back islands stolen or unravel cabbage patches. The most devastating and instant blows will require no kinetic energy weapons at all. The opening "shots" of such a war started by the Chinese will be met with an instant announcement of a total sea and air embargo of China's trade around the world. Her mainland ports will be mined after warning by remotely controlled submersibles that the Chinese navy will be powerless to stop. Even if the Chines navy were able to stop the remote mining of the mainland ports the global publicity alone will diver most shipping and insurance rates will make trade with china by anything other than Chines flag merchant ships uneconomic. A world wide commerce raiding campaign will begin against Chinese merchant ships. Only one has to be caught or captured to eliminate any shipper / insurance willingness to ship via Chinese national flag. The U.S. will immediately suspend payments on ,and later if hostilities continue, refute all debt to China. Green Beret like special Forces will enter remote areas of China that have displayed separatist tendencies to help arm, and train insurgents. But there will be no attacks on the Chinese people by allied forces other than naval vessel and air craft caught at sea. There will be extensive propaganda campaigns to educate the general Chinese populace to the provisions of UNCLOS and how the Communist regime brought about their ruin by illegal thug like behavior. A populace already pretty well angry with the Communist regime over corruption is not going to tolerate economic ruin. The loyalty of the army if called on the Communist to fire on the Chinese population is in doubt. How will the army feel as they realize that there is no invasion of foreign troop coming, that the naval war and its economic damages are simply the reply of the allies to China's illegal naval aggression? Might they hang the communists hierarchy from lampposts before the Chinese people get around to it.
The Dragon has to realize that the nations it is trying to mug don't care about China's internal control issues, they just want the dragon out of their UNCLOS regulated cabbage patch. They are going to refuse to play the boogy man that the Communist will try to rally the people against. China's electromagnetic borders are too porous now to cover the truth for long. The people and the army will will rapidly realize that China's troubles were created by unlawful, unethical international behavior by their Communist party leaders which is simply a natural extension of their corrupt behavior so well known already to the populace. The troubles generated by this ill conceived war stumbled into by the Communists will haunt China and hinder its recovery for generations after all the Communists leaders are hung from lamp posts. The indigenous insurgencies will lead to the restitution of Tibet, the permanent independence of Taiwan, and the loss of some other territories. The insurgencies once launched can't be stopped by the allies. It will be up to the successor government to the Communists to either make peace and grant independence and get on with rebuilding or to engage in decades of civil war again. Just as the allies didn't invade or bomb the the Chinese mainland, they are not going to spend a great deal of time ,effort or expense trying to rebuild the Chinese economy.
There can be only be two alternative ending to such a war besides Chinese communist leaders hanging from lamp posts, and the first would be if China resorted to its already informally threatened first use of nuclear weapons. All that can result from such first use is that China may or may not be successful at wrecking some real destruction on one or more cities, and then is turned into a glow in the dark parking lot smoldering in ruins and drawing no sympathy from the rest of the world. China might never again emerge from a 19th century way of life being utterly destroyed and shunned by the rest of the world. The Chinese remnant might be invaded and conquered by Islamic extremists . After a nuclear exchange they wouldn't need much more than horses and rifles to do it. The only other alternative would be that after the opening rounds the Communists quickly with draw their naval and coast guard forces, and sue for peace. There will be a cost in naval disarmament and certain economic consequences will linger for years, but if the Dragon miscalculates into a shooting war, only such a rapid withdrawal from combat operations could possibly save much of the economy and the regime. But the regime will be publicly caught trying to lie to the people about the nature of their entire illegally based expanded EEZ expansion campaign. The Communist will be rightly held responsible for the long delay in the development of oil and gas reserves in the region by causing unrest, much to the detriment of the Chinese economy and those of its neighbors.
The Philippine government has been responding to increasing Chinese aggression for some time now. Last year the Philippines initiated a request to the United Nations for arbitration , but China having no legal case, and knowing it refused to participate. In a repeat of an incident between a Taiwan coast guard vessel and a Japanese coast guard vessel last month a Chinese coast guard vessel used water cannon to drive away Filipino fishermen approaching the Philippines Scarborough Shoal. Clearly China's aggression is becoming more intolerable and regional resistance is rising. Indeed China may have awakened a "sleeping tiger" in Japan. Who would have imagined that the Philippines, so brutally occupied by Japan in the 1940s would formally publicly state that they had no objection to a rearmed Japan? China is changing the entire balance of power in the region against itself. One of the Dragon's stated goals is to push the U.S. Navy back to Pearl Harbor. If they were to actually succeed at that goal they would rather rapidly be facing a nuclear armed and air craft carrier operating Japan, far less likely to take their abuse than a distant United States with more limited national interests in the area. We're sure as the communists leaders of Chain choke out their last gasp on the end of a rope of their own fashioning , they still won't get it. All they ever had to do was to obey the international law of the sea, be civil to neighbors, and continue to encourage trade to prosper. They have chosen the thug route and will eventually suffer the thug's fate.
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