Should we give this white sand beach to the Chinese? Pagasa Island, a speck in the waters of international contention, is just one of the approximately 60 small islands claimed by the Philippines since the country started taking control of some reefs and islets in the Spratleys in 1968. But that, however, is not without a broil, due to China’s claim on the whole Spratly region which allegedly dates back to the Han dynasty (2nd century BC) but which, up to now, is the subject of scholarly debates.
With the discovery of oil and gas in the region, other claimants soon popped up including Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei and the indirect involvement of US and Japan which primarily concern themselves with maritime activities and off-shore explorations.
For now, the lull of the Spratly region is hanging by the threads of some international treaties and agreements and hopes of peaceful resolutions. But then looking back at the lessons of history, pacts and treaties, especially when it comes to territorial disputes and natural resources plus cultural differences, it all boils down to armed conflicts. In short, it’s just a matter of time for the Spratlys to become the next flashpoint of a war of unimagined magnitude. Unless the world will come to its senses.