South China Sea is a part of
the Pacific Ocean, comprises an area from the Karimata and Malacca Straits to
the strait of Taiwan. The sea has a great significance geographically and
economically. Almost 35% of the world's shipping pass through this sea carrying
$5.1 billing dollars each year. Further, sea has a vast amount of natural
resources, including gas and oil reserves and remunerative fisheries.
Cartographically, China is located on South, Vietnam on East, Philippines on
West, East of Malay peninsula up to the strait of Singapore in the East and
North of the Bangka Islands and Borneo.
In fact, many countries have made their claims over the territorial of South
China Sea. People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (Taiwan)
claim over the entire area as their own. Besides, China and Taiwan, several
other countries including Philippine, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore also claim
on territory of South China Sea. It is being said, China is making and
furnishings several archipelagos in the region to augment it's influence.
Actually,China vows to curb the South China Sea entirely. She doesn't want to
share this sumptuous region with anyone else. It’s the beginning of China’s
maritime silk road.
Another reason is that China sees the South China Sea as its own property.
Historically, China has always viewed the South China Sea as its own. All of it,
and the resources that are hidden beneath, which China wants to exploit. That’s
why it is building artificial islands.
And that feeds Chinese nationalism, needed to support and reinforce the
political status quo.
What about the overlapping claims from neighboring countries? China does not see
any of the other overlapping claims from the neighboring countries to the South
China Sea as a threat.
And it uses intimidation to make sure that this won’t happen. When China lost a
United Nations linked tribunal international arbitration to the Philippines on
the South China Sea disputes a year and a half ago, Beijing took a couple of
steps to make sure that Duterte wouldn’t do anything with it.
The first step was to threaten Duterte with war should he dare to enforce the
ruling. The second step was to promise a generous investment to help the
Philippines deal with its many problems.
And it worked. Duterte quickly flip-flopped, and forgot all about the ruling, as
was written in previous pieces here.
More recently, China applied Dutertes model to intimidate Vietnam. Last July
Vietnam announced that it will stop its oil exploration efforts, following a
stark warning by Beijing that it will attack Vietnamese oil and gas bases.
Still, there are multiple navies that are prepared to challenge China’s
ambitious mission. It is the potential Western influence, i.e the US, France and
the UK and their navies, that are having more of an impact on Chinese policy in
Is China prepared to fend off this challenge? It’s hard to say.
What isn’t hard to say is that countries that play a game against all end up
That’s what happened in neighboring Japan in the past, and it could happen to
China in the future.
Meanwhile, investors in the financial markets of the region should closely watch
any developments that will bring China closer to an open confrontation with
America and its allies.
Author: Bilal Aziz, student of International Relations and Political Science