China and the Philippines in territorial dispute

Rob Schmitz May 10, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith:China’s government is ratcheting up the rhetoric about its claims to a disputed part of the South China Sea. Both China and the Philippines claim the area, which has massive oil and natural gas reserves.

Our China bureau chief Rob Schmitz has more.


Rob Schmitz: China’s state-run media make it sound like war with the Philippines is inevitable. One headline this week read: “Peace will be a miracle” if tensions continue.

Why the tough posturing?

William McCahill: I have to think that it’s connected with the leadership changeover.

William McCahill is an investment bank executive and formerly a senior U.S. diplomat in China. China changes leaders at the end of the year, and an embarrassing scandal involving one of them is threatening to postpone the transition. McCahill says Beijing may be using a potential conflict with the Philippines as a diversion. He wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese navy soon conducts military exercises near the disputed territory.

But McCahill worries about the commanders in charge.

McCahill: They lack combat experience, and in a way, are not quite so sensitive to the consequences of their actions.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. won’t take sides. But the U.S. did just triple its military aid to the Philippines this year.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

😱 Halfpriced hoodies! 😱 

This weekend only, when you donate $90 or $8/month, you can snag our cozy new Marketplace zipup hoodie. Don’t wait– this offer ends Sunday at midnight.