Why the Fuss over the South China Sea Spat?
I’ve tried a few times putting these thoughts on Twitter but I think it doesn’t fit the format. My analysis of the recent situation is relatively short, but not conducive to the medium. Here goes:
The first thing to understand is that, for a variety of reasons, the Philippines has almost no military projection power. Projection meaning being able to do things that are not on Philippine soil. Their air force consists of a few Vietnam-war era recon planes and their navy’s flagship is a former US Coast Guard cutter built when Kennedy was president. The most powerful weapon in its inventory is a 3″ diameter gun. Meaning, it would be outclassed and sunk by even the meekest time traveling World War I warship.
So now there’s a war of words. China, apparently, is sending a small armada to deal with the Philippines. One of the Beijing Twitterati commented that, “sentiment on Weibo seems to overwhelmingly favor using force to solve Philippines South China Sea issue. Either the Philippines caves or there will be blood.” His rationale was that, the “government [is] already in midst of credibility crisis. Showing weakness, especially to a ‘little country’ like Philippines over sovereignty issues not an option.”
I understand where this is coming from. And in almost any other context this would make sense. But I don’t think this makes sense in context to the Philippines precisely because of that military issue. “There will be blood” implies combat. But combat with what where? And what, precisely, is the Philippine supposed to “cave” on?