China is mixing its civilian population with military front lines. This new Sansha “City” probably should be called a province and not a “city”. Leave it to the Chinese and Taiwanese governments to garble province-level translation. It’s not anything the West considers a city. But, it was planted in the middle of international waters, is used as a basis for applying Chinese law in more places, is highly contested by neighbors like Vietnam, and has civilians.
At what point does a civilian population bear responsibility for the action of its government? Is it in supporting that government’s action? Is it in turning a blind eye to that government’s action, providing passive support? Is it in accepting one-sided gossip about other people they never met nor heard from? If so, all people across the world are guilty of every war.
China grew its power when Western consumers sent their jobs overseas to save pennies at the store. Western civilians built Sansha as much as Chinese civilians. When Sansha becomes a war zone, will there be such a thing as an “innocent civilian” anywhere in the world? All of us involve civilians in military matters; at least China is upfront about it.