Whereas China has side-stepped International Conventions and has made claim to some 90 percent of the South China Sea as its own, smaller nations in the region are now faced with inevitable diminishing sovereignty.
International navigation and billions of dollars of yearly trade and commerce on the South China Sea, would come under direct Chinese control and influence should China's claim to most of the Sea go unchallenged. In attempts to exercise this power over international navigation, China has erected large reclamation and construction projects on disputed atolls, rocks and islets. Air strips have either been built or are in the process of construction.
As China's claim to the sea has been backed up with marine patrols, the Philippines and Vietnam, have sounded their concerns over China's intent. The Philippines has repeatedly complained and pleaded for international assistance. Washington has repeatedly warned China and has sought clarification of China's aims. Yet, China has maintained its claim outside of International Conventions as it cements its expansion on the South China Sea.
Therefore, in lieu of a ruling or clarification from International Law of the Sea body, Western nations must act to ensure the sovereignty of smaller nations on the South China Sea and to safeguard freedom of navigation.
Mega aircraft and technology deals together with other recently inked trade deals between China and Western nations, must not act as a payment to the stalwarts of freedom and of the rule of law, to turn a blind eye upon China's apparent unabridged expansion of power and influence over southeast Asia.
To this end, China's claim to disputed territory must be tested; and tested constantly despite the risk of pestering from China's navy. Western nations cannot afford to passively yield the freedom of navigation on the South China Sea to the control of communists.
As the United States(US) launches sea and air patrols within the 12-mile radii of disputed territories over the next couple days, Washington must conduct the said missions in full accord to the security agreements it has with the Philippines with a view to ensuring the freedom of navigation on the South China Sea and the preservation of the sovereignty and the dignity of smaller nations.