Tag Archives: Spratly Islands


A future situation will bound to occur between South East Asian nations, the United States and their antagonist China.  As evidence of this we turn to the Hague decision in 2016. 

Click here to view the most recent warning by Chinese military personnel warning those who travel near the islands. These are verbal warnings, but future warning may be by missile or aircraft. This will cause a flash point between a belligerent nation and those who seek to travel freely based on international law.

Hague’s South China Sea Spratly Verdict All About Real Estate

The Hague has delivered a political hand-grenade with its surprisingly harsh and clear decision in the case of the Philippines vs. China over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

It’s all about real estate. And the natural resources under it.

To say it ain’t good news for Beijing is playing it down. China lost on every count in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based on the Law of the Sea.

The Taiwan coast guard secure a C-130 military transport plane on the tarmac of Taiping island, also known as Itu Aba, in the Spratly archipelago. (Image: AP/Johnson Lai)

The Philippines has used the law to say that China has been illegally impinging on its economic rights by stopping fishermen and petroleum explorers from entering the area.

Yes, that’s true, and no, China can’t do that, the court said. Presumably the warships that have warded those efforts off will now have to let them through.

Most importantly, the court ruled that China’s claim to almost 90% of the South China Sea based on the Nine Dash Line is invalid. Any claim to the resources in that region was “extinguished” when the Law of the Sea came into effect in 1994, establishing clear rules for exclusive economic zones around islands, the court said.

The decision came down to an interesting real-estate definition. Are the Spratly Islands actually “islands,” which can support life or economic activity, or “rocks”?

That is important because islands get an exclusive economic zone around them for 200 nautical miles. Rocks get nothing. In a separate issue, features that are above water at high tide – yes, even rocks! – get a 12-mile maritime zone governing free passage.


Islands or rocks? That’s what the Philippines asked, and they got their answer on Tuesday. The Spratly Islands, confusingly, are rocks. They don’t support ongoing human life, the court decided. Over the course of history small groups of fishermen and some Japanese fishing and guano-mining businesses have tried to live there, and they have failed.

That means any of the Spratlys that are within 200 nautical miles of the Philippines belong, economically, to the Philippines, which are most definitely islands. Each Filipino island of course has its own exclusive economic zone.

This matters not so much because anyone wants to build houses in the Spratlys. This is not Monopoly. But China does want a monopoly on the resources under the islands … excuse me, rocks … because the oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea are worth around US$5 trillion.

The dilapidated Sierra Madre is being used by the Philippine Navy near Ayungin Shoal to secure a perimeter in the Spratly Islands. (Image: Ritchie B. Tongo/AP)

China has famously built seven Spratly reefs into man-made islands, three of them with airstrips. These stake its claim physically. China says they will be used for safety purposes as well as militarily. The Hague says all of that activity is illegal, and has aggravated the dispute. Also, it says Chinese fishermen have used that protection to harvest protected species such as turtles, corals and giant clams illegally.

Check out this fascinating interactive time lapse on exactly what China has been doing in the Spratlys, from The New York Times. The Sydney Morning Herald also has a great aerial demonstration of how all three runways have changed the reefs, describing the construction as the stuff of the “arch-villain’s hideouts.”

Even Taiwan has been deliberately maintaining a scientific and military base on one Spratly island – now a rock under the court’s definition – that has no fresh water. It calls it Taiping, while the Philippines calls it Itu Aba. Fresh water is one of the keys to being defined as an island.

Anyone who is lucky enough to own an island will know that harsh reality. If you don’t have a fresh-water source, you have to ship in water at great cost. You can actually pick up islands surprisingly cheaply, but it’s the huge cost of maintaining one that’s the problem.

China has been using the Nine Dash Line, based on a map first printed in 1947 under pre-Communist China, as justification for its claims. The map brushes the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, all of which have various overlapping claims to parts of the sea.

I remember seeing a map of China, including of course Taiwan, with the Nine Dash Line for the first time when I went to cover the APEC summit in Shanghai in 2001 for CNN. I was shocked at how it seemed to me to ignore geography completely in what looked suspiciously like a land, or sea, grab. Critics have also contended that the Nine Dash Line is vague, and they suspect deliberately so. China says nautical maps generated by aeons of fishermen visiting the region show it has long occupied the area.

The Hague decision is “final and binding,” according to the court. But it is not binding, really, in that it is not enforceable. There’s no world body or even individual charged with enforcing it.

The main law force will be the weight of public opinion. All the politicians in the entire South China Sea dispute will be using the decision as ammunition against Beijing. The United States has sent warships through the area claimed by China just to show it can, and would no doubt respond, hopefully not using real ammunition. Australia has been considering such moves.

China will be under great pressure to cease construction, but it will be difficult to evict what are now apparently squatters from the Spratlys they now occupy. The court made it clear it wasn’t within its mandate to settle the territorial disputes, only to rule on the economic zones.

This file shot from a military plane showed China’s on-going reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, where it has now built an airstrip. (Image: Ritchie B. Tongo/AP)

China’s reaction has been measured. After The Hague’s decision, China put up a statement on the Web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While not specifically referring to the verdict, China reiterated its historical presence in the region, and referred to other bits and pieces of law to justify its claim.

It offered an open hand for the Southeast Asian nations to shake. It is willing to negotiate individually with the nations involved on the sovereignty issue.

Is it really about islands and who owns them? No. It’s about oil.

The most important part of the statement is that China is willing, while the legal disputes lumber on, to enter into provisional, practical deals involving joint development in the South China Sea, to “achieve win-win results and jointly maintain peace and stability.”

I doubt anyone is ever going to get free title to their own bit of the South China Sea. Meantime, let’s get on with business.

Alex Frew McMillan is a Hong Kong-based writer and free-lance reporter.


The China syndrome is for real. There are no two ways about it. And it is going to get worse.


The China Syndrome, the worry that an American nuclear plant meltdown could penetrate the earth’s crust finally ending up in China. A worry to this day. Economically we have seen the reverse, a China economic meltdown, now winding its way through oceans leaving economic woe and devastation in its path. China syndrome.jpg The bottom line here is simple. Over the past twenty years China has accumulated a couple of trillion dollars of our money; shipping slave produced goods to the United States in return they purchased foreign companies worldwide.

Their bounty was spent gobbling up companies across the global board. These included natural resources, manufacturing, biotech, electronic and software. They are today’s elephant in the economic room. China catches a cold, the world catches the flu.

They, that is Corporate China, has one goal in mind; to takeover the world. They are ahead of the plan they set out forty years ago. They have infiltrated country after country, threatened neighbors, broken into computer networks and stolen state secrets. However, our government and corporations have been their lackey. Doing business in China was not a walk in the park, but one kept on a leash; companies weren’t allowed to operate in China without a Chinese partner. This paved the way for them to learn, steal and develop their industries. If they couldn’t hook up with a partner, their corporations which by the way were government owned went on a shopping spree buying foreign entities; most specialized in technology, oil, minerals and finance.

Chinese competition is fierce, no company is safe from their armies of technocrats. Their domain in cellphones alone is worldwide. Their chip companies are to be reckoned with. Their fledgling airline, automobile and defense industries are now scaling up to be a force in the years ahead. America has sold out for pennies only to find out that they now will face the Frankenstein they born. This is not something to laugh at because the ramp up has just begun.

In future years we will face them on land, sea and air. Without the technical know-how we will be in second place. The time to act is now, not tomorrow, not a decade or two from now. We bring you the Spratly Islands as an example of Chinese conquest where no adversary dear threaten them. When dealing with tyrants force is the only language they understand.


Both China and Russia are very good at their game, they have perfected every counter move surreptitiously sucking in their prey. The United States, starting from the drubbing they took from Uncle Joe, to the playing of Obama like a cheap violin are in good hands with Rex Tillerson; don’t expect him to fall victim to the Chinese or Russian ruse.

China for instance has global ambitions of which no stone will be unturned.  We turn your attention to the Spatly Islands for example proving that words do not overcome might. Chinese mandarins have not shot their way into the controversy; what they have done is dared others to stop them – of course no one wants to pick a fight in which they would inevitable lose. So Japan, Viet Nam, Philippines and Thailand in reality are paper tigers without the wherewithal to wage battle.© Fabian Hamacher

The Russian bear resorts to military force, as in the Crimea takeover because for them power is only exercised at the point of a gun. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are in their sight. Keep in mind that the Baltics constantly look over their shoulder for an attack by a wild bear; a real possibility. Testing others in the ramp up to battle is a time honored technique. How far can the bravado go without any push-back is the true measure of their bravado.

Under Obama there seem to be no limit for an aggressor. Bashar al-Assad proved his meddle with Russian backing. Red lines were only words, powerless without force. For now the Russians and Chinese find themselves in intractable positions. But a new man in town does not so easily bend at the knees. The President of the United States Barack Obama greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Trump is no pushover like his predecessor. He is a hard nosed businessman whose learning curve in the ways of the powerful elite are much quicker than one expected. For example, Syria and Russia were sent a swift message via airmail destroying 20 of Assad’s aircraft. And a MOAB was unleashed in Afghanistan that targeted the ISIS underground network of tunnels. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, sometimes grimly called the “Mother of All Bombs” or “MOAB” because of its acronym, was loaded onto a pallet, flown in a C-130 cargo plane, then dragged out the back of the plane — pallet included — by a parachute.Preliminary results indicated dozens of ISIS fighters meeting their maker, dead and buried for good.

Next on the agenda is North Korea – Trump’s military are standing by, a red alert has been issued. Any moment now we expected North Korea to take one from the home team. One MOAB won’t do the job because Pyongyang has numerous assets on land and sea ready, willing and able to go into action. However, Trump will endeavor to destroy the Chinese puppet masters in an all-out surprise attack. This will be coming to a theater near you. We know it will happen soon because the Boy Leader is egging for a fatal engagement. Trump, we are certain gave Xi the ultimatum, stop nuclear ambitions of Kim Jung-un.  Don’t expect this to happen on Trump’s watch. Threats do not intimidate a psychopath. So let it be written, let it be done is Trumps counter to Xi. Kim Jong-Un Photorealistic-Sketch.jpg

Waiting in the curtain is IRAN and TURKEY.


China is provoking those who lay claim to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. They dare others to start something, but of course everyone knows what will happen then, bombs away. No country in the area has the military power to match the Chinese military. The foreign policy under Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama paved the way for China to lay claim to the South China Sea. America has laid down their weapons giving the signal to bullies that we will not challenge them. Our friends in the Philippines are now shuttering. What happens next is anybody’s guess. We have not seen the end of the story yet. This is a powder keg waiting to explode.

FROM FOX NEWS: China said Saturday that it will ignore the decision of an international arbitration panel in the Philippines’ lawsuit against Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“To put it simply, the arbitration case actually has gone beyond the jurisdiction” of a U.N. arbitration panel, said Rear Adm. Guan Youfei, director of the foreign affairs office of China’s National Defense Ministry.

The Philippines has filed a case in the United Nations under the U.N. Convention on Law of the Sea, questioning China’s territorial claim in the South China Sea. An arbitration panel is expected to rule on the case soon. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled last year that it has jurisdiction over the case despite China’s rejection.


President Obama has contributed to the disarray that now covers most of the known world. In three words you can say that he has “gone yellow pants.” The Crimea slipped into the hands of Czar Putin during a midnight auto theft adventure. Ukraine is still a tinder box. Shake rattle and roll is Putin’s modus operandi.

The Middle East has imploded with ISIS hegemony beginning to emerge in far off places. No country is safe from their sword. China is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea; building an airstrip in the Spratly Islands. This threatens not only the U.S. but the Philipines, Viet Nam, Taiwan, Maylaysia and Brunei. File:Spratly Is since NalGeoMaps.png

Obama is still doing the bidding for IRAN, another misstep in the United States foreign policy. Don’t forget he also went yellow pants in Syria and Libya.  And now POTUS has second thoughts about his decision to pull out of IRAQ – the void invited ISIS in in a flurry. This week he announced that another 450 advisers will be sent to Baghdad soon.

The defensive establishment has had it, they no longer trust the anointed one who finds it imperative to feed social welfare programs rather than defending the homeland.

History will not be kind when it comes to writing the Obama legacy.