For at least twenty years we have flagged up the South China Sea as one of the potential flashpoints in the world. As most of you will be aware, the region has come dramatically to international prominence in the past few weeks. What once was a general open waterway – though at times grievously afflicted with pirates – is now being strongly contested between China and various bordering nations. Those primarily involved are Vietnam (still a hard line communist state in essence, but with aspirations to prosper in the capitalist era), Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Looming above all these is the might of China, which has worked hard to convert a number of reefs into islands that are being developed as military bases.
It could probably be argued that these countries are less interested in the islands themselves, even those which they have artificially constructed, so much as what they claim to be their national rights in the water around them. We can only go so far as to discern the military, economic, and political forces involved; it is up to us as intercessors to discern the spiritual forces at work and to tune into the purposes of God.
The following site provides helpful and informative maps and satellite images of the affected regions in the East and South China Sea.
China has been making a major push for the last twenty years to develop its naval, space, and air force capabilities well in excess of anything it what it actually needs for self-defence. Her major assets are a matter of prestige in themselves; and it would be naive to suppose that they are designed only for show. Bearing in mind the occasions when China has fired missiles over Taiwan, this remains the equivalent of an active rather than a passive volcano.
These two websites provide further background information and an assessment of the harder line that China is now adopting with her neighbours.
Further afield but very much part of the region, and possibly of the equation, Hong Kong and Macau are known as “special administrative regions” in China, since British and Portuguese rule respectively was handed over just before the millennium – incidentally with no clarity as to the “end game” in terms of what would happen when the fifty year hand-over phase was complete. Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese premiere, openly told Margaret Thatcher that he would not hesitate to invade and take over the country if the negotiations provoked unrest in the colony. We may assume that the present compromise could again come under review from Beijing’s point of view if it were to adopt a more aggressive stance.
Things are rather different in Taiwan, a nation the United States has long regarded as being of such extreme strategic importance that it is ready to risk conflict with China for. At the end of the Second World War, the Nationalists retreated from the mainland of China when the Communists proved all victorious and found refuge on the island of Formosa, “the beautiful island.”
For many years they insisted on being known as the “Republic of China” but now accept their international identity as Taiwan. Forthcoming elections are currently predicted to elect a more strongly pro-independence party both to a majority in the legislature and to the choice of President. Beijing has always jealously regarded Taiwan as being part of China. Meetings planned for this weekend between the Taiwanese leadership and China are certainly worth praying for. The leaders of Taiwan and China have agreed to meet for the first time but it is too early to celebrate. See also: China and Taiwan leaders to meet for historic talks. Historically, however, whenever China has intervened in the past it has tended to make Taiwanese more inclined to assert their independence.
On a spiritual level, Taiwan is the Chinese population least impacted for Christ in the world.
Our natural inclination may be purely to pray against escalation that would lead to serious implications for the whole region. May the Lord lead you to pray dynamically and even prophetically into this situation. Clearly there are many people in the region in need of divine protection – but still more of divine encounter. May the Lord continue to bring very many to Himself in the region.
Father, we give you the whole Pacific Rim and ask You to overrule at all levels in this tense situation, most especially within the Chinese Politburo. Beyond the political scheming and manoeuvrings we ask You to pour out Your spirit to wean people from pervasive Mammon, Communism and all deceptive spiritual forces that blind people’s eyes, so that the glory of Jesus may be seen more and more both in mainland China and in the islands.
We also ask that you will overrule America’s thoughts intentions and practices; especially in the run up to administration change next year. In Jesus’ name. Amen.