China considers the South China Sea its “own sea.” All of it, including the artificial islands Beijing has been building in disputed waters and the riches that are hidden below the vast sea area. And it is prepared to use its old and new naval powers to make sure that no other country is reaching for these riches without its permission.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte understands this very well. Back in April Duterte reversed his earlier decision to raise the Philippine’s flag in disputed islands, following Beijing’s “friendly” advice.
A few months ago, Philippines and its close ally, the U.S., won an international arbitration ruling that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea. Yet Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte surprised the global community and financial markets by siding with China on the dispute, and seeking a “divorce” from the U.S.
Now, Vietnam and India are teaming up to tame China’s ambitions to control the South China Sea and the riches that are hidden beneath.
Vietnam and India’s challenge to China comes at a time when tensions between New Delhi and Beijing have flared on several fronts. In the Dokalam area of Sikkim, where India has been trying to block China’s efforts to build a road, and in reply Beijing has warned New Delhi that it risks suffering “greater losses” than 1962.
That challenge was short lived. Early this week, Vietnam announced that it will stop its oil exploration efforts, following a stark warning by Beijing that it will attack Vietnamese oil and gas bases.
Apparently, Vietnam and India need to learn from President Duterte’s wisdom. They should ask Beijing before they make any drilling plans in China’s “own sea.”
So should international investors, before investing in financial markets of the region.