A day of beer, music and volleyball is being held on a disputed South China Sea island to prove a point: that China's territorial aggressiveness isn't winning it any friends.
The Philippine and Vietnamese navies will hold a beach party to bond over their common mistrust of China, and forget — just for a day — their mistrust of each other.
Reuters reports that in June a delegation from the Philippine navy will travel to the disputed island of Southwest Cay, currently held by Vietnam. There, sailors from the two navies will drink beer, listen to music and play volleyball in celebration of their improved relations.
The islet is part of the disputed Spratly Islands, of which parts are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and China. The beach party symbolizes the way in which smaller countries have had to find new alliances in order to contain China’s growing might.
Southwest Cay was cunningly seized from the Philippines by Vietnam 40 years ago, when its Philippine occupiers left it momentarily to visit another island. However, these days the two nations share concerns over China’s assertiveness and recently agreed to expand cooperation. China warned them not to do joint military exercises, so a barbecue and beach volleyball will have to do for now.