Posted by: mulrickillion | October 15, 2011

South China Sea: A new geopolitical node

By Prokhor Tebin, Asia Times Online, Oct 14, 2011 —

For a long time, the planet’s geopolitical nodes were situated in Europe, namely the Balkans and Alsace and Lorraine. For 20 years after the dissolution of Soviet Union geopolitical node of the planet was Middle East. Now it’s safe to say that the new geopolitical node is the South China Sea.

It is the South China Sea where interests intersect for the major global players: the United States, Japan – as the No.2 power, and the rising giants of Asia, China and India. On its coastline or near it are seated many rapidly developing countries – Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore. The countries of Southeast Asia account for nearly 10% of world population, and 2.5% of global GDP.

Sea-trade is foundation of global economy: 90% of world’s commerce travels by sea. It is the second most used sea lane in the world – over 50% of the annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait. The Strait of Malacca accounts for nearly 10 millions barrels of crude oil every day. There are enormous mineral and fishing resources, and the South China Sea is estimated to hold about 7 billion barrels of oil and 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

At the same time, a lot of threats to the national security of regional and out-of-the region countries are associated with those waters. These threats could be divided into three types.

The first type is socio-economic threats. Despite rapid economic growth Southeast Asia is one of the poorest regions of the world. More than a half of population lives on less than $1 a day. Illiteracy also remains among the highest. A substantial part of the population has problems with food, drinking water and medicines. The situation is only getting worse because of frequent natural disasters; the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was the strongest among them, but not the only one. . . .

Asia Times Online: South China Sea: A new geopolitical node

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