Is South China Sea the Next Battleground? By Jubayer Ahmed
China is super ambitious about taking over the world and that requires them to have an edge in all aspects ranging from being a military super power, economically dominant and politically penetrating. A country with militarily ranked 3rd and with 14 trillion dollars of defense expenditure annually is nudging USA aside on the side-line and dismantling the century long modern-day imperialism of USA. By the way, the rise of China indicates an economic and military hegemony in Asia and adjunct regions. That’s where South China Sea comes in. It is geographically well positioned and rich with natural resources making it a hotly contested area among the surrounded countries. One-third of world’s trade shipments pass through this way with ten percent of the world’s fisheries and huge proven reserves of oil coming up to 11 billion barrels of and 192 trillion cubic feet of gas worth serving the growing needs of Chinese exponentially burgeoning economy. In addition, it is in China’s greater interest to have tight grip on this stretch of South China Sea as eighty percent of China’s crude oil imports come through this swath of the Sea. As a result, China is totally poised to secure a smooth and unhindered flow of energy supply for the world’s twenty percent consumer of the whole energy consumption worldwide.
China stakes out its claim over ninety percent of South china sea that it encircles with a hypothetical nine dash line violating United Nations convention on the law of the sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. According to the convention prescribed by United Nations marine law the area a country has special rights to for its absolute use is called EEZ, exclusive economic zone, which extends to 200 nautical miles from the coast of the concerned country. China shows how much ready it is to defend what it call is their historical claim with a flat-out denial of the Convention of maritime law by encroaching EEZs belonging to six other stakeholders surrounding south china sea and by sending warships and building artificial islands bearing the accommodation of runways and military bases and facilities. Philippines brought china up against trial and in 2016 the International court justice in Hague ruled in favor of Philippines which the other five contenders, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, who have their respective stakes there, welcomed. The International Court of justice is limited to only arbitration suffering enforcement mechanism limitation.
True position of USA is there face to face with Chinese warships in the waters of South China Sea to counter any forced presence and block to the very important world trade marine passage by sending their warships and aircraft carriers. From the USA standpoint its presence there is simply due to ensuring navigational freedom in the International waters which the Chinese foreign affairs Ministry and defense Ministry labeled as provocations and threats to the regional stability. The situation emerges as where china is ready to do anything to be the world leader to dominate the world politics threatening American leadership and hegemony and on the other hand US will not tolerate any resistance to the power structure and in turn prompting them to take stern action against china to curb their growing reach in the international arena, trickles of which have already manifested themselves in the form of far-reaching tariff imposition and military presence in the contested area, rallying the support of alliances surrounding the sea.
Of the strong alliances of US in the region in particular Japan and South Korea have a lot to be concerned about what might come up in the case of china getting hold of ninety percent of south china sea because Roughly two thirds of South Korea’s energy supplies, nearly 60 per cent of Japan’s energy supplies pass through this region. So with the world politics into perspective a complicated situation surrounding south china sea looms large as US dominance on the world stage and its alliances’ future are due to be compromised by the present wild behavior of China. But you never know how things might unfold when it comes to politics.
The writer is an undergraduate student of Public Administration at the University of Dhaka.