WASHINGTON – Finally we know what this whole business of Beijing grabbing islands in the South China Sea, while claiming sovereignty over most of it, is about. We learn from a Reuters story that the actions of the Chinese government are all about devotion to the ancestors. No kidding.
It goes back to the Empire
You see, we are told by China’s leaders that in the old, glorious imperial days, (that the Chinese Communist Party now upholds), China was a mighty naval power. Its fleets sailed the oceans. And, in so doing, they landed in all the small islands that dot the South China Sea. (Well, let’s say that there is some “poetic license” here. Overall, China never was a naval power. True enough, around 1420 large Chinese fleet were created. Admiral Zheng He was entrusted with missions of discovery and more. But this endeavor ended with the death of the Emperor who had appointed Zheng He. And it was never repeated).
Therefore, based on this established “presence”, (most of the islands are uninhabited, but we can call this a small detail that should not distract us), blessed by the mighty Emperors, modern Chinese leaders now have every right to claim these territories as their own. Most importantly, they can also claim the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones surrounding these rocks.
And Beijing warns us that these claims are obviously non negotiable, for the simple fact that giving them up would be an offense to the ancestors. At least this is how Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it, (with a straight face, I might add).
As reported by Reuters, this is what the Minister said:
“One thousand years ago China was a large sea-faring nation. So of course China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Nansha Islands…China’s demands of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands have not expanded and neither will they shrink. Otherwise we would not be able to face our forefathers and ancestors.”
China is the victim
He also added that other greedy countries started encroaching on China’s territorial waters in the 1960s. In light of this “China is in reality the biggest victim” –Minister Wang Yi said. (And we thought they were the island grabbing aggressors…How misinformed).
Actions aimed at upholding rights, honoring the ancestors
Given all this: China’s legitimate claims, the devious actions undertaken by neighboring countries, and –most important– the duty to honor the ancestors, it is clear beyond any doubt that China must protect and defend its sovereign territories in the South China Sea.
Now we understand
Thanks to the Minister, now we understand.
What do you know. We were so mistaken. We thought that this was all about stealthy expansionism, encouraged by a diminished presence of the US Navy in the Pacific.
We thought that this was about establishing control by force over what used to be international waters, and/or islands also claimed by other countries, (the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, and others).
But no. It is not so. It is all about reverence of the ancestors by (we know discover) a deeply religious and pious Communist Party leadership.