Following Japan's proclamations that it will take over another 280 'disputed ownership' islands, it appears the increasingly dis-approved of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's path of militarism and provocation is working. As China Daily Mail reports, citing experts, China intends to take back Zhongye Island – 'illegally' occupied by the Philippines, according to the Chinese. The Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea. Philippines military is building up on the island and the Chinese see as 'intolerable' the "arrogance" relying on US support. It seems the Obama administration may have to 'not take sides' in another fight soon.
Background on the build-up…
Eugenio Bito-onon Jr, mayor of the Kalayaan island group, part of the contested Spratly islands administered by the Philippines, recently confirmed that the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has deployed new air force troops in rotation to the disputed island of Thitu, according to Jaime Laude in a report for the Manila-based Philippine Star on Jan. 5.
Known as Pag-asa in the Philippines and Zhongye island by both China and Taiwan, Thitu is the second largest in the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea and the largest of all Philippine-occupied Spratly islands.
Laude said that the air force troops were deployed to Thitu island by naval aircraft, which will give the residents of the island a chance to visit Kalayaan aboard the returning plane. He added that China's maritime expansion into the South China Sea continues to put pressure on the Philippines, and the Philippine Navy have also been stationed in the area to defend the islands.
Six countries – Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — claim in whole or part to the South China Sea and its island chains and shoals.
And the Latest Tensions…
Via China Daily Mail (translated from Chinese media),
Relying on US support, the Philippines is so arrogant as to announce in the New Year that it will increase its navy and air force deployment at Zhongye Island, a Chinese island that it has illegally occupied for years.
It will be an intolerable insult to China
According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea.
The battle is aimed at recovery of the island stolen by the Philippines from China.
There will be no invasion into Filipino territories.
A report in the Philippines Star confirmed the Philippines military buildup on the island.
Source: qianzhan.com “Sudden major move of Chinese troops this year to recover Zhongye Island by force”
Of course, claims that "battle will be restricted" are nothing but taunting and should China launch an offsensive here, we suspect the already dry and brittle tinder box in the South (and East) China Sea could rapidly escalate.