The World: Storm in the China Sea

Replete with dueling navies, commando landing parties and sinking vessels, the scenario that unfolded last week in the South China Sea recalled gunboat diplomacy of bygone years. The clash was between South Viet Nam and China over the 50 or so tiny, nearly uninhabited reefs, shoals and atolls that make up the Paracel archipelago, about 200 miles east of Viet Nam. For two days the fighting was intense, but the outcome was never in doubt. Chinese troops claimed the islands last week in the name of Chairman Mao.

The conflict began when South Viet...

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