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“Banana War” between China and Philippines Drawing to a Close

It looks like the Banana War between China and the Philippines is finally ending. After Manilla used the convenient pretext of an approaching typhoon to order its ships to return from the Scarborough Shoal, Chinese fishing boats are likewise heading back to port, says the New York Times.

As the Times also notes, however, neither side has ceded its claim to sovereignty over the rocky atoll in the South China Sea, and the issue may flare up again once the weather improves:

The seabeds of the South China Sea hold energy reserves that are being exploited in some areas. In other areas, energy companies hope to start drilling soon, including at Reed Bank, an area off the Philippine coast that China claims.

This respite should give diplomats a chance to negotiate a more permanent resolution. Those discussions will be aided by the arrival in Beijing of the new Filipino ambassador, who was sworn in on Monday. That the Philippines lacked an ambassador during the crisis was widely seen as contributing to the delay in reaching an agreement.

The United States is likely to be dragged in to more of these geopolitical spot fires as it steps up its commitment in Asia; there’s a danger of being dragged in too far. Washington is rightly focused, then, on developing a “code of conduct” through multilateral forums such as ASEAN, which will reduce the chances for further confrontations of this kind.

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  • Jbird

    I hope no one on our side have given these countries like the Philippines and Vietnam the idea that we are going to go to war over their territorial disputes with China.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The US needs to oppose China in their unjust claims on an entire sea. Look at what China is claiming at this link

    China is claiming territory that is rightly in the 200 mile economic zone of Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Taiwan as described by the Law of the Sea Treaty to which China is a signatory. China’s outrageous territorial demands are contrary to their own treaty obligations, and America must hold China to their word or every agreement China is signatory too is thrown into doubt. This is clearly a case where China is revealed as the greedy grasping bully it is.

  • Kris

    The obvious solution is to eliminate all these micro-islands, thus getting rid of the competing naval claims. We could do so together with Russia, using nuclear weapons, thus both promoting cooperation and reducing our nuclear arsenals.

    I await my Nobel Peace Prize.

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