The South China Sea is one of the most geopolitically contested areas of the world.
In few other places in the world do geopolitics, energy security, maritime law, and balance of power politics come into play in an area of such importance.
The stakes are high in the region. China’s energy demand continues to grow faster than any other country in history. Meanwhile, the South China Sea off its shores could hold 1/3 of the total oil and gas reserves of China – if it were counted as part of its domestic territory. The Chinese government does not want to rely on imports for its energy, so has asserted right to vast stretches of the South China Sea. Unfortunately for China, it is not so simple: the other states bordering the Sea have competing claims. While all sides contest each other’s claims, the threat of military brinksmanship leading to escalating tensions looms.
ASP Adjunct Junior Fellow, and a native of Australia, Matthew Baker writes in this “ASP Perspective” that there are concrete steps the U.S. can take to foster solutions to disputes in the South China Sea.
You can download the fact sheet here, or read it below: