The Great South China Sea Hydrocarbon Grab

In all of the struggles for territory in history, none has been quite as ambitious or unusual as a country trying to steal a whole ocean.

But that is what China is actively doing in the ocean south of the mainland: the South China Sea. Bit by bit, it is establishing hegemony over this most important sea where the littoral states — China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam — have territorial claims.

The importance of the South China Sea is hard to overestimate. Some of the most vital international sea lanes traverse it; it is one of the great fishing areas; and the ocean bed, near land, has large reserves of oil and gas. No wonder everyone wants a piece of it — and China wants all of it. Continue reading

US watches as Beijing forges ahead with S China Sea oilfield plans

China’s recently published Resource Development Strategic Action Plan (2014-2020) says the country plans to establish a large oilfield in the disputed South China Sea in the next six years capable of producing around ten million tonnes of oil a year, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

From the end of 2013 China has accelerated land reclamation projects in the area, with Fiery Cross Reef, which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan, being expanded to 0.9 square kilometers as of Oct. 16, making it now the largest island in the disputed Spratlys. Estimates based on a satellite image taken on Nov. 17 suggest that the reef has now grown in area to 1.3 square km and that the reclaimed land is structured like a landing strip. Under previous administrations China had pushed for the shelving of disputes and the joint exploration of resources in the region by claimant nations out of diplomatic considerations, Duowei stated. Due to the land reclamation projects and moves to build airports as well as calls for bids to exploit oil resources by other claimants, however, the shelving of disputes is no longer on China’s agenda. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, there has been an increased military presence in the region and moves that suggest China is moving forward with its plans to exploit resources. Continue reading