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Nuclear War Over a Grounded Philippine Ship on the Disputed Second Thomas Shoal?

Conflict over the Second Thomas Shoal. Credit: Philippine Coast Guard

April 8, 2024 (EIRNS)—This would be the stuff of a Woody Allen movie, if it weren’t deadly serious. The Financial Times ran a lengthy article April 7 about the upcoming summits of President Joe Biden with Japan’s Fumio Kishida and the Philippines’ Bongbong Marcos. They found “two senior U.S. officials” who told them that “Biden would express serious concern about the situation around the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands where the Chinese coast guard has used water cannons to prevent the Philippines from resupplying marines on the Sierra Madre, a rusting ship that has been lodged on the reef for 25 years.” One of the two added: “China is underestimating the potential for escalation. We’ve tried to make that clear in a series of conversations … that our mutual defense treaty covers Philippine sailors and ships and by extension … the Sierra Madre. China needs to examine its tactics or risk some serious blowback,” the source growled.

Financial Times then turned to two experts to do the extrapolating. First, Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund: “The greatest risk of a direct U.S.-China military confrontation today is at Second Thomas Shoal.… If Beijing directly attacks Philippine ships or armed forces, Washington would be compelled to respond. A major political crisis between the U.S. and China would ensue, and, at worst, a wider military conflict.”

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