Make no mistake about it. The Spratly islands dispute could get messy. In March 1987, a clash between Chinese and Vietnamese warships in the disputed island group resulted in both sides losing a vessel, and 120 Vietnamese soldiers killed. A year later, Chinese ships sank three Vietnamese vessels in Fiery Cross Reef with 74 sailors dead. The United States just watched, of course.
Before President Aquino’s three spokespersons go on another flag-waving, saber-rattling tack, they should take very seriously Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s advice: “Don’t agitate China.”
“What they are doing is posturing, but when things go really bad, I’m sure they will be the first to run. These subalterns are very talkative,” Enrile angrily said.
Enrile knows what he is talking about: he was there at the inception of this geopolitical flashpoint.