Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The South China Sea Dispute

In an act that cut away all pretense of nicety and diplomacy, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has bluntly said that the United States and the Philippines should "count how many runways there are in the South China Sea and who built them first."

Now everyone know China has been doing land reclamation in the South China Sea for years and they had pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the project. To me, that short term view will come back to bite us in the future.

In simple terms, does anyone truly believes that China just want to maintain the status quo after throwing so much money in the South China Sea? Of course not. About $5 trillion worth of trade passed through the South China Sea every year and China claimed about 80% of the sea. China has been constructing artificial islands in the disputed areas to lay claim and has been ignoring rival claim from every other country in the region. 

Even with all that, most Southeast Asian countries has been mostly been silent on the matter. Outside the Philippines, no one else in the region had dared to confront China on the matter for fear of losing Chinese trade. Yes, I am talking about Singapore. 

Considering that most of our trade goes through the South China Sea, I can't understand why Singapore isn't more vocal on the issue. This is a matter of vital importance for us. In simple terms, Singapore can survive without Chinese investments, but we won't survive if China succeed in claiming 80% of the South China Sea. 

Can you imagine what would happen to Singapore if China tax just half (or even a third) of the $5 trillion worth of trade that goes through the South China Sea? Singapore will not survive that. For that reason, Singapore need to get involve in the South China Sea dispute. 

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