Threats from China: Bluff or Pocket Aces?

President Duterte, President Xi

There has been a lot of controversy in the South China Sea since China began aggressive military campaigns and island building in the region.

A large majority of the international community recognize the area of the South China Sea, near the Philippines, as international waters.

Recently, China has made threats to Duterte suggesting that if Philippine oil drilling continues within their exclusive economic zone (EEZ), China may respond with war.

China recognizes the area to be part of China’s EEZ under the stipulations outlined in the UN Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) suggesting a certain mile range from the continental shelf of a landmass to be owned, economically, by that nation.

China is a bull in a China shop (no pun intended) in East Asia. Without international support, other players like the Philippines don’t stand a chance.

The question remains: is China bluffing because of their leverage, or is this the real deal?

China doesn’t stand to gain much by increasing tension in an already volatile region.

Their slowing economic growth and rapidly degrading control on their currency float should suggest that military expansionism to be on the bottom of their priority list.

Duterte also has a lot on his plate with the ongoing crisis of ISIS expansion in the south and his controversial war on drugs.

Will both parties meet in the middle, or is conflict inevitable?