Well, we had to deal with Vietnam’s Buddhist monks a few decades ago … I guess now it is China’s turn.

Vietnam said earlier this week that six Buddhist monks will soon take up residence on one of the Spratlys. The monks, who reportedly will stay for the next year, belong to the government-sanctioned wing of the Buddhist church.

In all seriousness though, this has all the ingredients; oil, sea lines of communication – and overlapping claims that adds fuel to it all.

…to re-establish abandoned temples on islands that are the subject of a bitter territorial dispute with China.

The temples were last inhabited in 1975, but were recently renovated as part of efforts to assert Vietnamese sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.

The monks’ delegation is being organised by the local authorities in the southern province of Khanh Hoa, which exercises administrative responsibility for the islands on behalf of Vietnam.

It has also paid for the refurbishment of the island shrines. They include three larger temples and several smaller ones.

The monks have been appointed abbots of the island temples for a six-month period.

Along with China and Vietnam, parts of the islands are claimed by the the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

To get the Monks there takes just a boat – to keep them there or to kick them off takes the ability to project naval power ashore.

Is this a provocation? Of course. The billion dollar question is; what national security concern is this of ours? If it isn’t, when does it become one, if at all?

Posted by CDRSalamander in Foreign Policy
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  • Byron

    Any action that may cause a military response, especially in shipping lanes will have an adverse effect on our economy, especially if the PRC uses force to either displace the monks or God forbid kill them.

    It’s a small world…

  • Derrick

    Why hasn’t anyone used military force to claim those islands by now? I hear they are worth a lot of money due to oil deposits underneath?

  • Byron

    Well, Derrick, you got Vietnam, the Phillipines and the PRC. One has a constabulary force and a coast guard, one has a small standing army and smaller navy and the other is a superpower. Who’s going to declare war on who?

  • 11B40


    Gee, i sure hope that this isn’t the same oil the lefties swore up and down that we were spending our blood and treasure in South Viet Nam to get. I don’t know about you, but red-on-red is my favorite color.


    Of course, you could also ask why all the countries being signatures of the Law of the Sea (LOS) treaty don’t ask for arbitration from the LOS Tribunal?

    To me the PRC’s (and much of the ROC’s) claims, which are based on an internal memo and don’t recognize any previous claims or execution of sovereignity, are clearly excessive. Since they haven’t requested the UNLOS Tribunal to mediate, they are concerned about the outcome. Malaysia, Bunei, the Phillipines, and Vietnam would probably be happy with a LOS Tribunal ruling, but can’t request arbitration until the PRC agrees to it.

  • Byron

    And none care about LOS…they only care about the buried riches, especially since all of them are resource-scarce.

  • Derrick

    Hmm…probably have to encourage diplomacy the usual way: using military deterrence. LOL

    So I guess the only really relevant thing I can ask is:
    What is the risk of having the US navy patrol the waters around those islands regularly?

    Given that the map shows it to be a small confined area, I guess any ship in that area would be an easy target for ASBM? Is the water depth enough for submarines or the big nuclear powered aircraft carriers? I wonder if the area is within range of jets based in China…

    Is this a situation where those proposed smaller carriers may come in useful?

    Just random, ignorant thoughts. Feel free to reject. 🙂