Don’t you have bigger problems, Taiwan?

I’m not sure that attempting to pick a fight with the Phillipines is the right strategic move for the Republic of China.  Especially given the way larger wars tend to start from smaller ones, what on Earth do the Taiwanese think to gain from this?  Is this the geopolitical equivalent of the physically hapless geek rolling his eyes and saying “see, you don’t want to mess with me, man, I’m KRAZY!”

While most consider the Middle-East a hot-bed of geopolitical risk (prone to flare at any moment), it seems hot money flows and territorial disputes are rapidly turning the South China Sea into a powder-keg. As Japan vs China is off the front pages for a moment (and US and South Korea engage in joint naval exercises) it seems Taiwan and the Philippines are escalating rapidly following the death of a Taiwanese fisherman last week after Filipino military fired on his vessel in supposedly disputed territory between Taipei and Manila. The situation is evolving rapidly as the Philippines’ un-apology (though they sent their condolences) may prompt Taiwan to send F-16 fighters, Kidd-class destroyers, and three or more warships, according to The Liberty Times. The threat of escalation is premised on a formal apology coming within 72 hours. As Stratfor notes, Taiwan’s territorial ‘claims’ are “outrageously ambitious” but the various island nations all appear set on rattling sabres as mainland China stiffens its resolve against Japan over the Senkakus.

This is akin to brandishing a fist against the squirrel in your backyard as you steadfastly ignore the very large and hungry tiger sprawled out on your porch.  It’s the sort of thing you read about in the history books and think: “nah, no one these days could possibly be THAT stupid.”