Recently in a show of strength the USA and South Korea mounted an exercise in and around the Sea of Japan. It consisted of 20 ships, 200 aircraft and 8,000 military personnel and was supposedly a response to the sinking of a South Korean vessel by North Korea. Like all such military displays of power it was accompanied by fine words. They were "protecting the democratic South against the tyranny of the North". China, an ally of North Korea viewed it as "an intrusion into an area not far from Chinese territorial waters". It is much more likely that the correspondent Giles Whittell was much nearer the real economic truth behind the fine words when he reported
"The military display that may or may not have struck fear into the hermit dictatorship north of the 38th parallel has angered Beijing as it seeks to assert sovereignty over nearly 1.5 million square miles of the South China Sea, rich in oil and mineral deposits".
(Times, 28 July) RD