Broad hints have been coming out of China that the country might start small-scale military strikes over disputed waters that are believed to hold rich energy reserves. The consequences of such endeavors would be tolerable to Beijing, international experts say.
Bitter territorial disputes China has with neighbors in the East and South China Seas have long grabbed media headlines. Virtually all countries in the region are involved in spats with China, from South Korea and Japan to the Philippines and Vietnam. In March alone, Beijing had verbal clashes with Seoul over a submerged rock; with Manila over the Philippines' plan to build a ferry pier; and with Hanoi over China's biggest offshore oil explorer's moves to develop oil and gas fields.
The problem, given today's geopolitical tensions and advances in technology, is that "small scale military strikes" can escalate out of control, creating an entirely different, and potentially unimaginable, outcome, from what they were engineered to do.