In the South China Sea Possession is Nine Points of the Law

August 28, 2011

In reference to “Possession is Nine Points of the Law”, U.S. says, “Possession means holding property in one’s power or the exercise of dominion over property. By having possession one exercises control over something to the exclusion of all others.”

This has been true of the United States since it became a nation and took thirteen colonies away from the British Empire by force.

In fact, if you exercise dominion over a property, it belongs to you, which means you must be willing to fight to keep it if someone else comes along and challenges you for possession. If someone breaks into your house while you are there, how do you react?

For a few examples, the U.S. did this in the Louisiana Purchase (1803), Alaska (1867), Hawaii (1898), Puerto Rico (1898), Guam (1898), Northern Mariana Islands (1978), United States Virgin Island (1917), and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (since 1903), etc.

The British Empire once held possession of a quarter of the earth’s surface mostly taken by force from those that lived there for thousands of years, or when Spain destroyed and occupied the Aztec and Inca Empires in the Americas.

At one time, the Philippines was a territory (held by force) of the United States, and there have been other territories possessed by the U.S. that no longer are occupied by America.

With that in mind, China’s historical claim over the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands has a long history, which is documented in detail at Citizen Economist Dee Woo starting with 220 BC when Nansha Island (a Spratly island) was settled by Chinese monks that built a monastery there.

Woo’s final piece of evidence is a link to a 64-page document titled, China’s Sovereignty over the South China Sea islands: A Historical Perspective, which is archived at the Oxford Journals.

Chinese authorities argue that they and other nations in the region can work out their differences without intervention from the United States. They say that the U.S. is intruding and attempting to make this an international issue.

The South China Sea is bordered by ten nations and includes some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and fisheries. Another motivation to possess this territory is the critically important mineral resources found there, including oil (with reserves thought to be the fourth largest in the world).

Historically, the South China Sea dispute is no different from any the United States has been involved in since defeating the British Empire and becoming a nation or when the U.S. paid France for the Louisiana Purchase, while millions of North American natives still lived where their ancestress had lived for more than 10,000 years.

“Possession is Nine Points of the Law” and the South China Sea dispute is no different, so regardless of the claims, victory will go to the squatters with the biggest weapons. After all, the United States is a perfect role model that has used the unwritten “possession law” to its advantage many times.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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