Analysis

Will China Go to War for Offshore Oil?
A 2010 photo of the Chinese army frigate 'Mianyang.' A similar Chinese ship reportedly ran aground in the South China Sea on July 11, 2012. (TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
July 18, 2012
| Security, Economics, Energy
| Asia and the Pacific
Summary
A Chinese warship running aground on a reef 124 miles from the Philippines a week ago was the latest sign of growing tension in the oil-rich South China Sea, a region disputed by six countries. While China’s strategy of divide and conquer appears to be working for now, LIGNET believes this territorial dispute will continue and that the risk of a military conflict will grow.
Over the past two years, Beijing has adopted a much more aggressive posture in pursuing territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, an area where four ASEAN nations the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have also advanced competing claims. China has insisted that disputes be settled in a bilateral fashion, while smaller nations in the region have pushed for a broader, multilateral resolution. Unable to devise a security framework to resolve the dispute, regional states are appealing to the United States to increase its presence, which is further driving up tensions.

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