Philippines-China standoff could spin out of hand
More News from Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines — It started like many other minor confrontations over the specks of isles dotting some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. But the risks in the latest flare-up over a South China Sea shoal are much bigger than the territory itself.
Armed vessels from the Philippines and its much more powerful neighbor, China, have faced off for two weeks at the horseshoe-shaped Scarborough Shoal. Either side could miscalculate — and consequences could bear down on the whole region, and drag in the US too.
Here’s a look at the key players, issues and what’s at stake:
HOW IT STARTED:
The Philippine navy says it caught Chinese fishermen poaching, and on April 10 two Chinese vessels moved in to protect them. The fishing boats slipped away, leaving behind a tense standoff with each side hoping the other will pull out first.
HISTORY OF FLASHPOINTS:
The shoal is among 200 islands, coral outcrops and banks spread over the South China Sea, with rich fishing grounds and other resources. The biggest of them are the Spratlys, claimed all or in part by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.
There have been sporadic shootouts at sea in the past few decades — China-Vietnam, China-Philippines, Taiwan-Vietnam and Philippines-Vietnam — with navies sinking ships and fortifying disputed islands. A major clash in 1988 between China and Vietnam killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers. China took over the Philippine-occupied Mischief Reef in a surprise mini-invasion in 1995.
Then in 2002, all parties agreed to a status quo.
It largely held. Until now.
Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94