OK, this looks like the first actual military incursion on to a disputed territory in the Souith or East China Sea, and it’s not by China or any of its main antagonists. In fact, and assuming it doesn’t get out of hand, the whole thing has a pleasingly Ruritanian feel:
The standoff continues between Malaysian authorities and an armed group of 100 Filipinos claiming to be members of the royal armed forces of the Sultanate of Sulu, authorities said.
The Sultanate of Sulu, based around Mindanao and other southern Filipino islands, used to exist but was incorporated into the Philippines, which claims parts of Malaysian Borneo on the ground that it’s ancestral Sululand, so to speak: the British originally took it off them and folded into the Malay possessions.
Anyway, the ‘Sultan’s army’ showed up about a week ago in what seem to be seaborne technicals and ran up the flag in Sabah. I thought at first they might be one of the Islamist militias on Mindanao, but those guys wouldn’t be claiming anything on behalf of the Philippines. On the other hand, territorial claims in the region are often pursued by state proxies, whether fisherfolk, activists or Buddhist monks. This more or less fits into that pattern, though the resurrection of a dead pirate kingdom is a marvelous vehicle for revanchism. It’s as though the Argies suddenly showed up on the Falklands and claimed possession as the inheritors of Lost Atlantis.