|Image from Stratfor|
I've been following, and blogging about, the claims of the nations in the area for a little while now. There are a lot of reasons why the nations are scrambling to detail why certain shoals and islets are within their influence, fishing rights, national pride and the promise of new sources of energy. The latest research by the EIA puts a bit of a damper on the energy front, as they found the contested areas have few conventional energy reservoirs that could be accessed. The share of proved gas and oil reserves for the South China sea are far less than 5% of global proven reserves. When considering that all of South Asia makes only a fraction of the estimated undiscovered reserves in the world, the prospects of massive energy discoveries in the South China Sea become rather remote. But this doesn't matter in the slightest to China.
China's claims of geopolitical 'first dibs' on the South China Sea has as much do to about the United States as anything else. China learned a very hard lesson back when the Europeans sailed up to the Chinese coast and divided up their nation via various treaties. The leadership of China are very cognisant that they are vulnerable to American naval power. As I mentioned earlier, with the US pivoting more towards Asia, we will see a lot more saber rattling in this part of the world.