An odd confrontation occurred at the north end of the South China Sea between the three nations cited in the title of this posting. It began last month when a Philippine coast guard vessel shot and killed a Taiwanese fisherman. Taiwan reacted angrily and sent a large naval flotilla backed by warplanes to hold military exercises near the Philippines in an obvious warning to the Philippine government not to repeat such bellicose behavior.
Then Communist China jumped into the fray…on the side of Taiwan! China sent “over a dozen” warships of it own into the region where the Taiwanese fisherman was killed and China’s “propaganda machine went into high gear against the Philippines for the fatal shooting of a ‘Chinese compatriot’ from Taiwan.” China further warned the Philippines that any further such attacks would result in Chinese attacks on eight Philippine islands.
This whole episode seems bizarre. Taiwan and the Philippines are natural allies in the Pacific Rim against Chinese militarism, but the Philippine vessel that killed a Taiwanese civilian managed to unite Taiwan and China in common cause against the Philippines! China, no doubt, saw an opening to sow division among China’s natural rivals in the region and it is adroitly exploiting the incident to maximum effect.
This episode is an example of how very odd and complex things can get in international relationships. For that reason alone, I thought it was worth passing on the knowledge of this incident to readers of this blog.