This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.
South China Sea — Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have met, talked, and now seem to want to work things out. That’s fantastic. We should all go into our weekends breathing a little easier and put out of mind a chilling reality.
The war drums are beating in the South China Sea.
Reuters reported Thursday that Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte just ordered his military to deploy troops to the Spratly islands:
“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered troops to occupy uninhabited islands and shoals it claims in the disputed South China Sea, asserting Philippine sovereignty in an apparent change of tack likely to anger China.”
On Friday, Reuters reported that Duterte’s government and military say the president’s words had been misunderstood, and that the troops will only be stationed on islands the Philippines already claims:
“The Philippines will upgrade existing facilities on its inhabited islands and reefs in the South China Sea and not occupy new territories adhering to a 2002 informal code in the disputed waters, defense and military officials said on Friday.”
The article goes on to explain how China’s reaction to Duterte’s move was, essentially, to tell him to reconsider. And now the Filipino president is backtracking, so we’re left to assume that everything’s once again peachy between the two nations. And that’s great. But the troops will still be on the islands — just in time for Japan’s mightiest warship to begin a tour through the South China Sea.
From a report published by The Independent in mid-March:
“Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.”
“The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and US naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July.”
Yesterday, Anti-Media reported that for the first time ever, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. are cooperating on anti-submarine drills targeting the evil North Korea of the mainstream narrative. Those drills are taking place within the larger scope of military exercises now happening between the U.S. and South Korea.
A reasonable conclusion, we proffered, was that the anti-submarine drills mark the solidification of a coalition of the U.S., Japan, and South Korea.
China, incidentally, likes to play anti-submarine games, too. From The Diplomat on Thursday:
“The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has commissioned a new Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvette at Yulin naval base at the port city of Sanya on Hainan island on March 31, China Military Online reports.
“The new warship, named Liupanshui (pennant number 514) will serve in PLAN’s South Sea Fleet, the force responsible for conducting Chinese naval operations in the South China Sea, and is specifically designed to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.”
The Diplomat, which specializes in analysis of the Asia-Pacific, writes that PLAN will launch a total of 60 such vessels in the coming days, with one new warship commissioned every six weeks.
China also just announced that its latest, greatest, and biggest ever amphibious aircraft will be entering service in May — right about the time Japan’s warship shoves off. The craft, writes China’s Xinhua News Agency, is highly maneuverable and perfect for transportation.
This makes one think China might be preparing to have to move a lot of troops and equipment to oh, say, a string of islands in the South China Sea.
And speaking of aircraft, consider this one from Reuters, published yesterday:
“A Chinese fighter plane has been spotted on a Chinese-held island in the South China Sea, the first such sighting in a year and the first since U.S. President Trump took office, a U.S. think tank reported Thursday.”
And while you’re considering all this, keep in mind that soldiers from the U.S. military’s most elite units — including Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, and Delta Force, among others — are in South Korea right now taking part in drills.
We know that because the military announced it. And the very fact that they did is enough to give one pause. The purported reason for deployment, of course, is to practice taking out that nasty Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Believe that if you wish.
The point is, regardless of the niceties currently being displayed between Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, the warships are still sailing. The jets are still flying. The troops are still being deployed. And a collision course in the South China Sea still, at present date, seems inevitable.