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Good News, World! You Can Stop Worrying About the South China Sea!

By Peter Lee | China Matters | January 23, 2016

There has been a concerted campaign to depict the South China Sea as an indispensable artery for commercial shipping and, therefore, a justifiable object of US attention and meddling.

This flagship of this effort is invoking the “$5 trillion dollars” worth of goods that pass through the SCS each year. Reuters, in particular, is addicted to this formula.

Here’s seven Reuters news stories within the last month containing the $5 trillion figure:

China Says South China Seas militarization depends on threat

China seeks investment for disputed islands, to launch flights

China defends South China Sea reef landings after Vietnam complaint

Philippines files protest against Chin’s test flights in disputed sea

China again lands planes on disputed island in South China Sea: Xinhua

Filipino protestors land on disputed islands in South China Sea

South China Sea tensions surge as China lands plane on artificial island

What interests me is that these seven articles reflect the work of six reporters and seven editors (seven to six! Glad to see Reuters has a handle on the key ratios!) in five bureaus and they all include the same stock phrase. How’s that work? Does headquarters issue a ukaz that all articles about the South China Sea must include the magic $5 trillion phrase? Does the copyediting program flag every reference to the South China Sea omitting the figure? Or did the reportorial hive mind linking Beijing, Manila, Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Sydney spontaneously and unanimously decided that “$5 trillion” is an indispensable accessory for South China Sea reporting?

I guess it’s understandable. A more accurate characterization of the South China Sea as “a useful but not indispensable waterway for world shipping whose commercial importance, when properly exaggerated, provides a pretext for the United States to meddle in Southeast Asian affairs at the PRC’s expense” is excessively verbose and fails to convey a sense of urgency.

The kicker, of course, is that the lion’s share of the $5 trillion is China trade, and most of the balance passes through the South China Sea by choice and not by necessity. … Full article

January 24, 2016 - Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I read the entire article. Well taken and undoubtedly relevant (para 1: US “meddling” is right on, across the globe), but I could do with a bit more straightforwardness and less sarcasm. Also, the figure $60 billion was carelessly and confusingly presented at one point as $6 billion…not good when accurate numbers are essential to optimal understanding of the issue.

    Like

    Comment by roberthstiver | January 25, 2016 | Reply


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