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China gets pushy over territory

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

BEIRUT, Lebanon – China has been showing an increasingly assertive posture in pressing its claims over the South China Sea, which is rich in resources including oil, with other nations who similarly make claims in the region. And the warships already have been dispatched, making a military conflict more than possible, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Those countries with competing claims to those of China include Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China wants to work with each country on a bilateral basis, but such talks have gotten nowhere and the smaller countries instead have pursued a multilateral approach, with no success. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China even has blocked any attempt to raise the issue of conflicting claims before there.

For that reason, the smaller nations have asked the United States to increase its presence in the area, which it has. The result has only raised tensions even more, according to regional analysts.

The dispute also has had the effect of dividing the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

Other members who back China and have no dog in the fight have formed a split with those ASEAN members who do.

Cambodia, for example, has been a major recipient of Chinese investment – some $1.2 billion last year alone.

China is particularly concerned with U.S. involvement in what it considers a regional dispute and has tried to warn it off. It recently accused the United States of pursuing a policy of encirclement of China that could lead to a conflict.

Beijing also has criticized such countries as the Philippines and Vietnam for seeking military assistance from the U.S., which China says the U.S. “can’t afford to provide.”

China’s response to all this is to float more warships in the region as a show of strength. It was particularly emboldened recently when the ASEAN nations could not issue a final communique of unity on the issue of access rights to the resource-rich South China Sea. China’s close ally, Cambodia, refused to agree to any communique.

There apparently are some 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs to which China has laid claim in the region. All are in dispute. Now, China is in the process of setting up local governments to rule over each of the 200 disputed claims.

Now that China is taking this action, and given that Beijing is non-receptive to virtually all other approaches to resolving the issue, the smaller countries in the dispute will be expected to increase their military presence, all of which could lead to inevitable confrontations in the near future.

China also doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the increased U.S. presence in the region since Beijing may have calculated that the U.S. will not be too assertive due to impending defense budget cuts. It also believes the U.S. will not want to have a military confrontation with China.

All of this then suggests that China will continue to display more military assertiveness in the region which could increase the risk of conflicts, particularly with the Philippines and Vietnam.

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