Thursday, April 02, 2015

Bashing in the Bashi?

Waiting for pole dancers who will never come.

Well well. On 30 March the Chinese air force conducted exercises in the Bashi Channel between Philippines and Taiwan.
On Monday, China’s air force held its first exercise in western Pacific Ocean airspace. As reported by the South China Morning Post, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) carried out drills in the air over the Bashi Channel, the body of water between Taiwan and the Philippines archipelago, considered the rim of the first island chain. The purpose of the exercise was to boost the PLAAF’s capability to carry out far-sea operations.
The thing is, the Bashi Channel is also the site of local expansionist claims, which occasionally appear in the local Taiwan media. In this case, there is a weird claim to the Batanes Islands in the Bashi Channel. For example, this Taipei Times piece from 2013:
In the 1898 peace treaty, the two parties [Spain and US] explicitly identified Cagayan Sulu Island, which is located at 6o north latitude, and the Sibutu Islands, at 4.83o north latitude, as part of the archipelagoes as a whole. They did not mention the Batan Islands, which are at 20.42o north latitude, and thus not a part of the Philippines as defined by the treaty.
Similarly, this one from Taipei Times in 2007:
He also says Japan and Taiwan never occupied or controlled the Batanes Islands, whereas the US did. This argument is based on military occupation and not on international treaties. If we must choose between occupation and treaties to base our borders on, treaties should win.
There isn't any public dispute between the two national governments, but I always wonder about things like this... the recent ten dash line map includes a chunk of the Bashi Channel, but not Batanes. Its obvious that it could, however.

The following day two US F-18 Hornets landed in Tainan...
Two American F-18 fighters have made a rare landing at an Air Force base in Taiwan after one of the planes encountered mechanical problems,Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed Wednesday.
One wonders if there is a connection between the Chinese exercise and the US fighters, and between the Chinese exercise and the (currently very fringe) idea that Batanes is part of Taiwan. Let's hope not, in the case of the latter. But it highlights the irresponsibility of fringers who write this stuff, which the Taipei Times should not have printed. I can't find any story on this earlier than the 2007 Taipei Times piece, so I wonder if that is the locus classicus of the whole thing.

But in Phils the Nine Dash Line is sometimes interpreted to at least potentially include the Batanes. For example. A Chinese writer notes the link here. And note the dash on China's recent ten dash line map, which includes Taiwan and a significant portion of the Bashi Channel.

As an acquaintance reminded, Tainan AFB has a storied history with the south: it was the launching pad for Japan's attacks on US bases in Philippines that opened its war with the US. Saburo Sakai, the legendary Japanese ace (see Martin Caidan's excellent biography of him Samurai! and also Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook's Japan at War: an Oral history) flew in those attacks.
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Anonymous said...

The way the sign is drawn suggests that it is supposed to be humorous. But, usually, prohibition signs are set up precisely where that sort of things tend to happen. And, there are known incidents of girls dancing to poles in parks, hurting themselves. Anyway, you'd never know if a wild pole dancer would appear.

Michael Turton said...

Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought, people were using it for practice.