Thursday, March 03, 2016

China: Yes, We Sent Salvage Ships to Jackson Atoll; So?

The main point that remains unclear is whether this is a temporary action – as would be implied from Hong's explanation about the salvage operation – or a "new normal." Despite all the tensions in the South China Sea, it's rare for one claimant to seize control of a new feature – the previous example involved China ousting a Philippine navy vessel from Scarborough Shoal in 2012, and then denying Philippine fishermen from accessing the feature ever since. If China intends to permanently control access to the fishing grounds at Jackson Atoll, it will mean Beijing has, for the second time in four years, used coercion to increase its holdings in the South China Sea at the Philippines' expense.

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