South China Sea Becomes Flashpoint in US-China Relations

Will China’s access and control to the South China Sea disrupt oil and trade shipments to Southeast Asia?

Flushed with huge energy and fishery resources, the South China Sea has long been an area of strategic significance. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the sea, while China and Taiwan have made claims to all of it.

Since late 2014, Beijing’s claim to the Spratly Islands, the Scarborough Shoal and the Paracel Islands—marked on its own maps by the infamous “nine-dash line”—has been reflected through the building of artificial islands over the reefs, which extend to the Spratly Islands.

In recent months, the sea has become the latest flashpoint in US-China relations. This was the cause of much concern at the recent Shangri-La security forum that was held in Singapore. The United States views China’s island-building project as an aggressive assertion to its claim of the sea.

Will China’s increased access and control to the South China Sea disrupt oil and trade shipments to Southeast Asia and affect the Obama administration’s much talked-about pivot to Asia?

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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