China escalated its dispute with the Philippines over an island in the South China Sea on Thursday, halting Philippine bananas at customs for longer inspections and launching a propaganda campaign calling claims on the island infringement of Chinese sovereignty.
Armed vessels from the Philippines and China were engaged in a long standoff after Chinese fisherman trespassed into contested waters last month, prompting swift reaction from both navies. Recent joint U.S.-Filipino military exercises and explicit defense guarantees to the Philippines from Washington have heightened tensions considerably.
The U.S. has been building up the Philippines’s military and security forces, offering funding and weapons in exchange for greater American presence in the country. Greater U.S. involvement with the Philippines and surrounding areas are part of a broader imperial plan to counter China’s regional influence, a provocation which could escalate to armed hostilities.
This latest nautical standoff arises from longstanding tensions between the Asian states over the territorial rights to the waters, which are not only rich fishing grounds but hold potentially vast reserves of oil and gas.
Washington’s so-called ‘strategic pivot’ to Asia’Pacific includes surging America’s military and naval presence throughout the region in the Philippines, Japan, Guam, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, et al. This expansion is prompted by no direct threat to the American people – just pure, unabashed empire – but seems to be instigating intense antagonism among the region’s states.