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Message from China: Winter Is Coming to the South China Sea

The Chinese army must “intensify its ‘real combat’ awareness” the state-run Global Times newspaper quotes Xi Jinping as saying. He made the comments last week on a tour of the army’s theater of operations in southern Guangdong province, which borders the South China Sea. During the same trip China’s new president also urged his citizens to prepare for a struggle over disputed ocean territory, Reuters reports.

On Wednesday, senior U.S. and Philippine officials met in Manila to finalize plans for the Philippines to host a larger contingent of American warships.

Philippine defense and diplomatic officials said they expected to see more U.S. ships, aircraft and troops for training exercises and disaster and relief operations.

“What we are discussing right now is increasing the rotational presence of U.S. forces,” Carlos Sorreta, the foreign ministry’s Assistant Secretary for American Affairs, told reporters. A five-year joint U.S.-Philippine military exercise plan would be approved this week, he added.

One thing’s for sure: the Game of Thrones is not coming to a close. With North Korea launching a rocket yesterday and territorial disputes between China and almost all of its neighbors intensifying day by day, the game is getting more complicated and more dangerous. Expect China to strengthen its naval presence in the South and East China Seas, expect more naval standoffs and even clashes, expect diplomats from the region to continue lobbing verbal barbs back and forth, expect mobs to riot in the streets, and, as we’ve seen in the past, expect China and its neighbors to fight in the economic arena, not just the political one.

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