It must be good to wake up one day, look at the vast expanse of ocean around your land, and decide that all the waters as far as the eye can see are yours. That’s what Beijing is doing in the sea to its south that needs an official change of name because the country thinks if it’s named after China it must be owned by the Chinese.
A perfunctory look at any map prepared by international authorities and not by the Chinese will show that Beijing’s claim over nearly the entire South China Sea is preposterous and smacks of territorial greed. If Beijing could include the resource-rich Sulu Sea, where its fishermen poach any marine creatures they can lay their hands on including endangered species, within its so-called Nine-Dash Line it would do so.
China’s southern neighbors, which are left only enough space to lay claim to beach resort areas if the Chinese claim is valid, initially shrugged off the Nine-Dash Line. This was until Beijing decided it was time to use its new economic prosperity to flex its military muscles while at the same time claiming the world has nothing to fear with its “peaceful rise.”
In 1993, the Chinese pounced on Mischief or Panganiban Reef off Palawan, setting up huts that Beijing described as shelters for its fishermen. The “shelters” have since been transformed into concrete military barracks – the best example of creeping Chinese invasion of atolls and islands way beyond its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. If the Philippines or any other Southeast Asian country built such structures anywhere within the same distance from Chinese shores, it could spark a shooting war – but the Philippines considers territorial greed irresponsible behavior in the international community.