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Rock, Paper, Sofa

By Dave Fox
Singapore

China and the Philippines have been baring their fangs at each other lately over Scarborough Shoal, an island in the South China Sea. Both countries say the island is theirs.

In my ongoing attempts to foster world peace, I went last week to survey the island. I went to my living room and flipped on CNN, which afforded me an excellent view of the disputed land mass.

Chinese television: A reporter hoists a flag, and laments the fact that the island has meager restaurant options.

I noticed a detail about Scarborough Shoal (or Huangyan Island, as China calls it) that neither China nor the Philippines has addressed: The island appears to be smaller than my living room sofa.

In spite of that, there has been talk of war. Both countries want it because fishing is good, and there might be oil or natural gas.

Last month, Philippines warships intercepted some Chinese fishermen in the area. In protest, a reporter from China’s state run television took a boat out to the tiny rock and hoisted a Chinese flag. A news anchor pushed things further, stating, “We all know that the Philippines has always been part of China’s territory…. This is an indisputable fact.”

I hate it when somebody says “we all know” something and it’s something I don’t know. I feel dumb. I regret those days in eighth grade history class when I was thinking about girls or Morse Code instead of paying attention. Had the Philippines ever been under Chinese rule? To fill this gap in my historical knowledge, I turned to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia said nothing about China ever having a claim to the Philippines. Wikipedia did, however, mention on another page that quite a few years ago, dinosaurs ruled the earth. This led me to think, if this reporter wants the world to be like it was many centuries ago, then she should be just fine with us unleashing a bunch of dinosaurs in her neighborhood, shouldn’t she?

After I thought up this idea, the reporter announced her earlier comment had been “a slip of the tongue.”

But people, we must not let the sputterings of one confused news anchor distract us. We’re talking about war here, and war is bad. We must seek creative alternatives, which is why I have come up with this plan:

I would like to bring China and the Philippines together for a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Whoever wins gets to choose:  the island, or my living room sofa. Yes, as a humanitarian gesture, I will give up my couch to settle this conflict.

Granted, fishing from my couch is not as good as it is from Scarborough Shoal. In fact, fishing from my couch is so dismal, my wife has been begging me to stop. But we all know the real purpose of fishing is to sit and drink beer, which (I speak from extensive experience) works just fine on my couch. So to compensate for the fish, I am throwing in a case of whatever beer China or the Philippines wants. And some frozen pizzas, which I would personally choose over fish any day.

Of course, I cannot just unilaterally offer up my living room sofa to settle an international dispute. This is a diplomatic act that requires high-ranking approval. So I called my wife at work. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, you know that couch in our living room?

Kattina: You didn’t spill beer on it, did you? You better not have spilled beer on it!

Me: I didn’t spill beer on it. I was thinking we could…

Kattina: It better not have been Guinness, because Guinness seriously stains.

Me: I didn’t spill Guinness. I was just thinking that…

Kattina: You snagged it with a fish hook again, didn’t you?

Me: No! I was thinking we could give it to the Philippines or China to help stabilize their current political situation.

Kattina: Oh! That sounds like an excellent idea!

So that is my proposal. China and the Philippines: Please drop me an e-mail and let me know when you’re available. We’ll have a best three-out-of-five competition.

If you ask me, the winner should choose my sofa. Not only is it bigger than the Scarborough Shoal, it is also more comfortable to sleep on. As is the case with Scarborough, nobody has yet found natural gas or oil in my sofa, but you know what you probably would find if you had the right exploratory equipment? Several dollars in pocket change and some Oreo crumbs. Good luck finding those on your little island.

Published on Monday, May 14, 2012

One Response to “Rock, Paper, Sofa”

  1. May 16, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    I din’t know, Dave. I think one time I dropped a few quarters on Scarborough Shoal. (Or was that the Scarborough Toll Center on the New York State Thruway? I can’t remember.) Anyhow, there may have been some Oreos involved.

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