Associate Professor Robert C. Beckman, in noting that the Philippines has taken its case to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, neglected to mention that the Philippines had engaged in construction in the disputed Spratlys for many years. Vietnam, too, did significant reclamation work in the South China Sea, even before China did.
The area Vietnam claims is almost as large as China's, but Vietnam occupies some 25 features, versus China's six or seven.
This is why some analysts suggest that China is only playing catch-up in the South China Sea, and that it is, in fact, being forced to respond pre-emptively.
United States Navy Secretary Ray Mabus recently affirmed America's naval power and said that if challenged, he would not want his troops in a "fair fight".
Thus, even if China were resorting to "might makes right", it is only following the rules of engagement set out by the US.
Chang Wen Lam (Dr)
This article was first published on May 28, 2015.
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