April 24, 2018

SMALL WARS JOURNAL: China’s Territorial Stratagem – Extending Military Range & Influence through Reclamation & Occupation of the Spratly Waters, South China Sea.

The South China Seas are strategically important, 30% of the worlds shipping trade filter through the region and there are 5 other countries (Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines & Brunei) that have claims to the area. (Vox, 2017)

The South China Sea is rich in natural resources. There are an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil, 109 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 10% of the world’s fisheries. (Vox, 2017)

Establishing territorial claims in the South China Sea will allow China to project political, economic and military power, influence freedom of navigation and harvest rich natural resources.

Taiwan first occupied an island in the Spratlys after World War II, and the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia followed suit, and all have built outposts and airstrips on their claimed territory. (CNN, 2016)

China has denied it would militarize the islands it has built, claiming use is for; navigational aids and weather stations. China has since turned the islands into navel and air force bases with hardened infrastructure.

China has looked at the farthest ranges of aircraft and communications equipment. From a strategic standpoint this allows China to reach beyond those limits and extend the range of their power and influence. In 2012, China claimed Scarborough shoal, located in the north of the South China Sea. If China manages to turn Scarborough shoal into a militarized island, it will assert influence over the entire South China Sea. (newsweek.com, 2017)

According to assistant professor, Richard Haydarian of De La Salle University in Manila; China is aiming to expand its military footprint which creates irreversible facts on the ground placing China in a position to use military force to defend its new territorial claims. Essentially China is telling everybody it is here to stay and not leaving.

China seems to have won this round without firing a shot.

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