mandag 15. juni 2020

China’s Tightening Grasp in the South China Sea: A First-Hand Look

China has taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been dominating headlines around the world, to reinforce its grasp on the South China Sea. While Western media is now preoccupied by the U.S. protests, Beijing will likely continue to take advantage of the fact that the eyes of the world remain focused elsewhere.

In the South China Sea, these past six months were marked by four distinct events. First, there was the Chinese Coast Guard’s aggression in sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel. Second, the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 went trolling for oil in the Malaysian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) north of Malaysia but within the nine-dash line that encompasses China’s claimed waters. Third, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) stretched its legs and conducted sea trials with the Liaoning aircraft carrier. Finally, Beijing announced the creation of two new administrative districts in the South China Sea, covering disputed maritime features.