From a business standpoint, the interest makes a lot of sense regarding to estimated oil reserves of 28 billion barrels and 266 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Moreover, a third of global shipping moves through the Strait of Malacca and Singapore every year and nearly all transportations of crude oil from the Persian Gulf to the Asian economies like South Korea, China, and Japan.
|Maps: US Energy Information Administration, International Hydrographic Organization|
The latest series of pictures released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. show Beijing's seriousness through new installed supply platforms and docking facilities on artificial land formations, aptly called Mischief reef. Considering several photographs over weeks, indicating the island is growing bigger. A special image from 1 February 2015 pointed out a Chinese amphibious transport vessel is only some hundred metres from the reef entrance and close to the Philippines. CSIS stated such a ship is capable of carrying around 800 troops or 20 armoured vehicles.
So, China sends a message, which assumes that nobody will take action against it. But those actions violate the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” and the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” from 2002 in collaboration with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). But nevertheless, the stronghold of China's firepower suppresses the main opponents from Vietnam and the Philippines and provokes ASEAN's restraint and could result in international interventions.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as well as Admiral Harry B. Harris accused China and mentioned concerns for prospective diplomatic solutions.
By Tim Lenke, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia