China Grabbing Whitsun Reef: ‘Sudetenland’ in Slow Motion
China Grabbing Whitsun Reef: ‘Sudetenland’ in Slow Motion by Gordon G. Chang for Gatestone Institute
- The failure of the Obama administration to defend the Philippines in early 2012, in a confrontation similar to today’s, emboldened China’s regime to adopt an even more aggressive posture in its peripheral waters.
- China claims all the waters inside the dashes are sovereign as well, terming them “blue national soil.” There is no legal basis for an assertion of sovereignty of this sort.
- Whitsun, which Manila calls Julian Felipe Reef, is 175 nautical miles from Palawan, an island of the Philippines. The feature is within the Philippine “exclusive economic zone”….
- Since December, large Chinese trawlers have lashed themselves together and parked in formations near Whitsun. Vessels come and go, but the numbers have gone up over time. They have not been engaged in fishing.
- Near Whitsun, retired U.S. Navy Capt. James Fanell tells Gatestone, China is building “two concentric rings of new artificial island bases.”
- Washington [in 2012] brokered an agreement for [China and the Philippines] to withdraw their craft [from Scarborough Shoal], but only Manila complied. Beijing has been in firm control of Scarborough Shoal ever since. The Obama administration, despite the brazen Chinese seizure, decided not to enforce the agreement it had just arranged.
- Worse, by doing nothing to hold China accountable for deception and aggression at Scarborough, Washington empowered the most belligerent elements in the Chinese political system by showing everybody else in Beijing that aggression worked.
- Chinese vessels have continued pressure in the South China Sea, especially at Second Thomas Shoal, also thought to be part of the Philippines, as well as other Philippine-controlled features.
- “Many on the Biden team failed to act in 2012. They now have a very rare opportunity to get another chance to do the right thing. Let’s hope they will.” — Capt. James Fanell, former director of Intelligence and Information Operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet, to Gatestone Institute, March 2021.
- James Holmes, who holds the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College, told Gatestone that China’s current actions at Whitsun are “an offensive that looks like conquest by increments.” Fanell maintains that not opposing China’s actions at Whitsun will soon put both Taiwan and the Senkakus at risk.
About 220 Chinese fishing vessels, almost certainly part of China’s maritime militia, are now crowding around Whitsun Reef in the Spratly chain in the South China Sea in another attempt to break apart the Philippines.
Whitsun is where the United States and the region should confront an increasingly expansionist China. The failure of the Obama administration to defend the Philippines in early 2012, in a confrontation similar to today’s, emboldened China’s regime to adopt an even more aggressive posture in its peripheral waters.
Whitsun Reef is inside China’s infamous nine-dash line. The line on official maps defines an area informally known as the “cow’s tongue,” which includes about 85 percent of the South China Sea. Beijing maintains it has sovereignty over every feature there, including Whitsun, which Beijing has named Niue Jiao.