Philippines all at sea over arrival of 220 Chinese ships at disputed reef. Some detail from the story.
The presence of more than 200 suspected Chinese militia vessels at a disputed reef off the Philippines could be a prelude to violent clashes, according to a leading analyst who says the flotilla is only latest example of the superpower tightening the noose in the world’s most contested waterway. In the latest diplomatic flare-up over competing claims to the South China Sea, the Philippines has protested after its coastguard discovered the vessels moored at a boomerang-shaped reef that both nations claim.
Nothing to worry about, say the Chinese. However, as the story says:
The incident shapes as a litmus test in south-east Asia for US President Joe Biden’s new administration swiftly following its frosty diplomatic summit with China in Alaska last week. “Back in 2012 [China] took the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines and [Barack] Obama didn’t see it as a red line and shortly thereafter we saw a spike in artificial island construction across the South China Sea,” said John Blaxland, professor of international security at the Australian National University. “They tested the waters and they knew the Americans weren’t going to bite. What we’re seeing now is a fresh one for the Biden administration and it comes after Alaska.”
A litmus test for Australia as well. Where’s the Minister of Defence?