I've been writing about the South China sea and the growing focus of the US trying to contain China and China trying to avoid containment. Here are two images showing why future saber waving and bellicose rhetoric and continued US focus is assured in this part of the world.
Crude Oil Shipments
These images make it increasingly apparent why China claims the areas it does for its exclusive economic zone and why the nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and even Korea and Japan have a vested interest as well. I've detailed China's fears of US containment and the threat that of having the straits of Malacca choked off, this image just brings that point home.
For the other Asian nations it isn't just that about national pride or the natural resources on the sea bed floor, the entire sea is literally fuel lifeline of Asia. While exclusive economic zones aren't the same thing as territorial waters, under the complete jurisdiction of the nation that controls them, it isn't the same thing as open unclaimed ocean either. The other Asian nations won't acquiesce to Chinese claims, outside of the readily the apparent economic reasons, because to do so would be to say that under the influence of China. What would that mean?
Ever gone on a cruise in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico? In almost every port of call you will see a US coast guard cutter. The US presence is everywhere and you cannot get away from it, which isn't all that bad considering that piracy is rather rare in that part of the world. The Gulf of Mexico is indisputably under the domain of the United States. This is what China wants for the South China Sea, and what the other Asian nations don't want.