China huffed and puffed at US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's raising the issue of its long shadow over the South China Sea.
For Beijing, it is 'mare nostrum', but Vietnam, Philippines, and Malaysia don't agree with that claim at all. Taiwan does for obvious reasons.
'Ninoy" Aquino, the Filipino president, has called on China to settle territorial issues peacefully. He cannot say otherwise for the very simple reason, it hasn't the naval muscle to challenge China.
Today, with the Communist party's green light, demostrations denouncing China's taking over islands that Vietnam claims for its own. For those with shorter memories, China occupied some of this islands, mainly uninhabited, others simply rocks, because under the sea floor lie billions of millelitres of natural gas. [In 1979 China's armies invaded Vietnam by land to teach it a lesson for overthrowing the Khmer Rouge and then occupying Cambodia for its own expansive designs; on land, China is no match Vietnam; Vietnamese history's high moments speak of repelling Chinese imperial adventures to conquer Vietnam. On the high sea, on the other hand, Hanoi is no match for China. Consequently, it has sought diplomacy to settle territorial issues to varying satisfaction.
Now it seems China has pushed the envelope to occupy the islands for its own energy needs and owing to exercising claims which it believes it is due Beijing as heirs to Imperial China when the regime acknowledged China as the centre of the southeast Asian world and Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Hanoi its vassals.
Suddenly the US military forces on land and sea take on an enhanced presence as a counterweight to China's pretensions and sea and island grab.