China Next War
CHINA'S NEXT WAR at South China Sea,?
THE MOST LIKELY site for a war is probably the South China Sea, which China claims as its own 1,000-mile long pond. This huge sea, encompassing the Paracel and Spratly Island groups, covers major international shipping routes, including those that carry oil from the gulf to Japan. The area is also claimed in part by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines.
China and Vietnam have fought
naval battles in the area in 1974 and 1988, and the danger of a more decisive conflict may
be growing for two reasons. First, some experts believe that there are extensive oil and
natural gas deposits in the area, enhancing its appeal. China itself has estimated that
the South China Sea floor contains 105 billion barrels of oil, an extravagant guess that
it has since backed away from. But even vague hopes that the area is so bountiful will
encourage Beijing to use force to control the sea. Second, China has always regarded the
area as its own, but it is only now gaining the ability to enforce its view. The Chinese
armed forces have extended a landing strip on Woody Island, the largest of the Paracels,
so that it is now 2,600 meters long, thus creating a staging ground for any conflict.
From "The Rise of China", N. D. Kristof