An article published earlier today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer has a few interesting quotes on the potential for conflict in the Spratly Islands, although the parties speaking are careful to say "South China Sea". Perhaps most significant of all is the mere fact that the US Navy and the Philippines Navy are now actually talking about the potential.
The occasion was a visit by the admiral in charge of the US Pacific Command to meet with the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Ricardo David Jr.
In front of the visiting commander of the United States Pacific Command, David said the Philippines would not be part of a shooting war.
“Unang-una wala naman tayong ipuputok (In the first place, we have nothing to shoot with),” David said, drawing grins from some reporters while Admiral Robert Willard simply looked on since he could not understand Filipino.
David expressed hopes that no shooting war would occur in the South China Sea. “We want to avoid that, even our US counterpart would not like any violent activities in the South China Sea,” he said.
Yes, that was an elbow in the ribs.
And from another article in the same excellent publication -
On Sunday, the US Navy hosted a delegation of Vietnamese military and government officials on the USS George Washington, a hulking nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier cruising in waters off Vietnam’s central coast. Chinese ships were seen shadowing the carrier in the distance.
“These waters belong to nobody, yet belong to everybody,” Capt. David Lausman, commanding officer of the George Washington, said aboard the mammoth carrier that can carry up to 70 aircraft, more than 5,000 sailors and aviators and about 1.8 million kilograms of bombs. “China has a right to operate here, as do we and as do every other country of the world.”
The problem is that the Chinese claim complete sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
Keep an eye on this one, my friends.