Where is the South China Sea ?
The South China Sea is exactly where it sounds it should be, China is to the north. The Indochinese Peninsula is to the west. In the east, sits Taiwan. It is of huge economic importance. 1/3 of all maritime shipping passes through the South China Sea. It’s fisheries are huge food source for Southeast Asia. Massive oil and gas reserves are believed to be under the sea. In the 1970’s countries began claiming islands in the South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam all claim land in the South China Sea.
What is China’s goal ?
China has been reclaiming islands in the sea. They have physically made islands larger and created new islands. They have built airstrips, ports and military installations that have fighter jets, radar, and missiles in the Spratly and Paracel islands, as well as Woody Island. Japan has sold military equipment to the Philippines and Vietnam to help with Chinese aggression.
China has now militarized several of the islands they built. China has armed these islands with anti ship, anti aircraft, missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, and fighter jets. Beijing says it is strictly for defense. This is a threat to all that use the international sea and airspace. Civilian planes could get into range of the missile system. For decades, The United States, patrols the area with Naval ships and aircraft to protect navigation in the international waterway. 5 trillion goods are shipped through this area, of the China Sea, every year.
Will China invade Taiwan?
There has been increased concern over China invading Taiwan. All of this is in the midst of Russia invading Ukraine. Will China make a move on Taiwan? I don’t think anyone believes their ramped-up military in the China Sea is strictly for defense. China is watching Biden’s response to the Ukraine invasion.
The U.N. invalidated China’s claim in the sea under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China continues to defy the law. China does not want the United States in the China Sea. The United States prevents territorial disputes in this region. The defense treaty with Manilla could bring the United States into a conflict with China and the Philippines.
South china Sea map from Library of Congress