A couple days ago, I had noted that China has turned away from a diplomatic solution, and is pushing toward a military conflict. I still think that China is simply attempting to bully the Philippines and testing the U.S. response, but as this article from Fox News reports, China's rhetoric has taken on a more belligerent tone:
China announced today it was suspending all tours of the Philippines by Chinese nationals because of the risk, it says, for their safety.
Meanwhile, a demonstration against China is to be staged outside the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines capital Manila on Friday.
The Chinese Embassy has also warned its citizens to stay off the streets.
China also says it will be checking more stringently all deliveries of fruit imports from the Philippines. China is its largest market for fruit products, such as bananas.
Both actions look also to be an attempt to put economic pressure on the Philippines.
China has always wanted to make any negotiations about the area on a bilateral basis rather than make it an international issue that would bring in other nations, including the United States.
The Philippines has also said it wants to negotiate, but Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has also warned of China's looming threat to freedom of navigation.
Now, though, it seems China is warning that it's prepared to take military action if the Philippines doesn’t back down.
The PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army of China, ran an article titled, “Don’t Attempt to Take Away Half an Inch of China’s Territory”over the Scarborough Shoals or, as China calls it, Huangyan Island.
"We want to say that anyone's attempt to take away China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island will not be allowed by the Chinese government, people and armed forces," the newspaper said in the article.
Poornima Subramaniam of IHS Global Insight told Fox News that a shooting war would be a no-contest situation. “A military confrontation between the two militaries would be a total mismatch. The Philippine Navy’s combat or even patrolling capabilities are no match to that of the PLA Navy. The fact that the Philippine Navy’s capability was greatly enhanced by the 44-year-old former US Coast Guard cutter, when it became the PN's flagship, illustrates the navy's inherent weakness and its inability to maintain a credible fleet.”