while Obama slept, (and pressured the Philippines not to take aggressive actions) China destroyed the reefs (no green protest of course) and built artificial islands that would block the major sea lanes to East Asia.
from the arab news:Rows with China have usually been about the South China Sea, west of the Philippines, a conduit for about $5 trillion of shipped goods annually. China lays claim to almost the entire South China Sea.
While Duterte has been sanguine about ties with China, Lorenzana is more wary and has noted that Beijing’s fortification of manmade islands inside the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone has not abated.
yes, a slow international court finally said China was breaking the law, but to use the proverb: Who will bell the cat? Who will actually stop China's illegal landgrab?
And now, Chinese "survey ships" are surveying Benham Rise. but telling the Philippines not to Rory because they will "respect the Philippine's sovereignty".
Left out: Tat many Chinese papers have started discussing that the Philippines was once part of China (hinting they plan eventually to annex it).
translation: Having an artificial island base to the east of the Philippines not only would allow China to blockade the Philippines, but would enable them to blockade another shipping lane to Korea and Japan, destroy Taiwan, and have closer access to hit Guam and other American possessions.
essentially it would allow them a choke hold on all countries in East Asia, LINK
They are testing Trumpie boy. They got away with stealing the West Philippine sea under obama, so now are trying to test Trump, thinking that the Obama minions will keep him weak. This might not be true as this little noted AP story shows, but that is the perception if you watch CNN or the BBC (which is terribly anti Trump).
This is a test of the Philippines, of course: Because Obama openly tried to undermine Dueterte before and after alection, he turned to China.
But now they want to test Duterte and see if he will make nice or lose all that nice investment money that China has promised.
(backstory: Most of the elite families have Chinese ancestry, but the rest of the Philippines hate the Chinese because they are perceived as having a monopoly on wealth that keeps the ordinary folks in poverty. Ironically, the average Pinoy likes Americans, so ignore anti american protests by professional leftists).