Boiling Waters: Conflicts in the South China Sea

Hey there, BUIAA! Join us this Wednesday, September 12th,  at 7:30 pm in Sargent College Room 101 […]

Hey there, BUIAA! Join us this Wednesday, September 12th,  at 7:30 pm in Sargent College Room 101 for our first weekly Global Insights Discussion of the year!

This time, we’ll be focusing on an infamous hot spot of conflict in the Asia-Pacific, the South China Sea.

What do you need to know about this center of international security concerns? Well, first off, know these names: Brunei, Malaysia, The Philippines, Vietnam, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and the People’s Republic of China.

Second then, you might ask, why know these six soverign states? The answer is this: Each of these states lays claim to all, or at least a portion of, the disputed Spratly and Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea.

Next question: Why do a series of small, uninhabited islands matter in the grand scheme of international affairs? Answer: These islands contain an abundance of natural resources, as well as host one of the most active shipping routes in the world. To specify, some studies estimate the oil lying underneath these islands is greater than that found in all of Kuwait. In addition, more international ships pass through the South China Sea daily than both the Panama (5x more) and Suez (3x more) Canals.

And due to historical ambiguities, true owernship of these islands is not obvious. Between that, and with such value in them, it is understandable why many countries would want them. All this together creates a great receipe for some serious disharmonic disputes in the Asia-Pacific!

Still, to add one more piece of fuel to the fire, there’s also the United States.  As a major Pacific power, the US asserts itself to promote a peaceful resolution to these territorial conflicts, and to ensure waterways vital to its trade and supplies remain open as well.

With so much involved, this hotspot of disputes has the potential to create crises that could escalate significantly! Nevertheless, there has so far been major attempts at more peaceful resolutions to the conflicting claims as well.

Which way will win out? No one is sure, but come to the BUIAA’s Global Insights Discussion to learn more about the situation, to talk about the concerns, and see perspectives on both potential cooperation and conflict in the region!

Before you come, feel free to utilize the following links as references for some quick study. More questions for consideration will be posted at the meeting for discussion!