April 25, 2014

Island disputes heighten tension between China and neighbors

Featuring Ely Ratner

Source: Global Journalist

Journalist Margaux Henquinet

The Second Thomas Shoal might not seem like much. A small reef about 125 nautical miles from the Philippines in the South China Sea, it is home to a rusting Filipino warship named the Sierra Madre that ran aground in 1999 — and little else.

Yet in early March, Chinese ships tried to block the Filipino navy from bringing supplies to a small group of marines stationed on the Sierra Madre. When a Filipino ship slipped past the blockade and reached the shoal, China cried foul, accusing the Philippines, according to Reuters, of an “illegal occupation.”

The reef is just one of a number of flashpoints between China and its Asian neighbors over territory in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. As with the Second Thomas Shoal, nearly all of the islands in dispute are of little value themselves—but the surrounding sea lanes, fisheries and potential undersea oil and gas resources are.

Please read the full article at Global Journalist


  • Ely Ratner

    Former Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Ely Ratner is the former Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where he was a member of the executive team and res...