The South China Sea is an area of great strategic importance. It also has tremendous economic potential and scientists have estimated that it has oil reserves under the seabed that are more than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. China is eyeing this oil reserve and has accordingly laid claim to the entire area. Unfortunately, the Philippines and Vietnam also have a stake as the area falls within their economic zone. It has however by sheer muscle power occupied the vast islands in the South China sea and also sent its #military there. 

China asserts in the South China Sea

The Philippines approached the International court as it could not match the firepower of the Chinese.

In a landmark judgment, the court has upheld the Philippines claim. China has however rejected the decision of the court and mentioned that probably the decision was given under duress. It has called for bilateral talks with the Philippines but has added a rider that the court judgment will not be mentioned. The Philippines have rejected this conditional offer of talks. The president of the Philippines has stated that his country will not go to war with China on this issue. This is a sane decision as China cannot be militarily matched by the Philippines who are dependent on the USA for their defense.

China's plan

In the meantime, the Chinese have started a build-up on the islands in the sea. The USA and Japan have cautioned China, but the Chinese have reiterated their exclusive claim over the entire sea.

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In a tactical sense, the Chinese have the overwhelming power in this area and the only thing stopping them is the USA, which has a formidable force present in Japan and  the ocean in the form of the 7th fleet. Beijing has declared it will not give up its claim and also will not accept the court ruling. In such a scenario what are the options  for the Philippines?  There is a  distinct possibility that the Philippines could allow exploitation of the islands in the South China sea but as a quid pro quo accept a few billion dollars as compensation from China for allowing it to exploit the entire economic zone. In case this happens it will be a diplomatic coup for Beijing and the USA will be hard-pressed. #World Politics