This story about the heightened war preparedness of the Chinese Navy in the South China Sea sends a slightly mixed message. It is a territorial claim, that much is clear. But which territory caused the sudden heightened alert?

Although the article highlights tensions over U.S. Naval route-clearing missions, I strongly suspect this is a response to the upcoming elections in Taiwan. The political rallies have started, and these aren't small events, and they seem to be largely outdoors.

In case we get more clarity in the future (heaven forbid a conflict actually occurs – but it is possible aggressive action or confrontation to give clues, should they occur), I'd like to say: I give a 75% chance this is caused by the Taiwanese election (and we will see a quiet wind-down afterwards), a 20% likelihood it is caused by conflict over maritime territory in the South China Sea, and 5% for all other causes combined (things like, 'the naval forces in the area are entitled to at-risk pay so this is zero-cost', 'anything to do with North or South Korea', 'concerns over Hong Kong', etc. all don't really match the specific nature of this escalation).