South China Sea

[East Sea, West Philippine Sea] [ hl ]
Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer Regional Studies (Security) Australian Command and Staff College l d d ff ll October 25, 2011

1. 2. 2 3. 4. Overview Conflicting Claims Conflicting Claims Recent Development p Drivers of Security Tensions

1. Overview 1. Overview
Strategic Importance
• W ld’ World’s second busiest sea lines of  db i t li f communication • Hydrocarbon resources (oil and gas) • Fisheries

Sea Lines of Communication

South China Sea SLOCs South China Sea SLOCs
• 100,000 ships transit Straits of Malacca and  Singapore  annually • >25% of world’s traded goods pass through  South China Sea • 25% of all oil shipments carried by sea pass  through Straits (11 million barrels or 1.7  through Straits (11 million barrels or 1 7 mission cubic metres per day)

Physical Features Physical Features
•Semi‐enclosed sea •Dangerous  grounds d •Paracel Islands •Macclesfield Bank l f ld k •Spratly Islands •Kalayaan Island  l l d Group 

Patterns of Occupation
Binh Minh 02 Incident Reed Bank Incident

2. Conflicting Sovereignty Claims 2. Conflicting Sovereignty Claims
South China Sea claimants: •Taiwan (ROC) ( ) •China •Vietnam •The Philippines •Malaysia l •Brunei

International Law International Law
• United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea  (UNCLOS) • Balance rights of coastal and maritime states Balance rights of coastal and maritime states • Does not provide for settlement of  sovereignty issues i i • Establishes transit regimes
– Territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone, high seas  (note: international waters – US)

EEZ Claims Cl i

Key Developments
January 1974 China seizes southern Paracels March 1988 Chinese‐Vietnamese naval clash March 1988 Chinese Vietnamese naval clash 1992 ‘Scramble for the Spratlys’ 1995 China occupies Mischief Reef 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the  South China Sea (DOC) • 2005‐08 Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking 2005 08 Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking • May 2009 Submissions on extended  continental shelves continental shelves • • • • •

2002 DOC Self restraint 2002 DOC Self‐restraint
a. holding dialogues and exchange of views  as appropriate between their defense  as appropriate between their defense and military officials; b. ensuring just and humane treatment of  gj all persons who are either in danger or in  distress;

2002 DOC Self Restraint  2002 DOC Self‐Restraint
c. notifying, on a voluntary basis, other  Parties concerned of any impending  y p g joint/combined military exercise; and d. exchanging, on a voluntary basis,  relevant information.

DOC Cooperative Activities DOC Cooperative Activities
a. marine environmental protection; b. marine scientific research; c. safety of navigation and communication at  c safety of navigation and communication at sea; d. search and rescue operation; and d search and rescue operation; and e. combating transnational crime, including but  not limited to trafficking in illicit drugs, piracy  l d ff k ll d and armed robbery at sea, and illegal traffic in  arms.

China’s 9‐dash  ’ U shaped line  U‐shaped line laying claim to  ‘historic  waters (80% waters’ (80%  of the South  China Sea)

UN Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf – May 13, 2009

3. Recent Developments
• 2007‐10 South China Sea tensions re‐emerge
– Aggressive unilateral fishing ban imposed by China

• • • • • •

2009 USNS Impeccable 2009 USNS Impeccable incident 2010 China’s ‘core interest’ July 2010 US ‘national interest’ J l 2010 US ‘ ti li t t’ 2011 Chinese aggressive assertiveness July 2011 Guidelines to Implement DOC g Oct. 2011 China‐Vietnam Agreement

Date 25/2 2/3 24/4 6/5 11/5 11/5 21/5 26/5 9/6

Incidents involving China/Chinese Vessels PLA‐N Frigate fires at Filipino fishing boats MV Veritas Voyager forced from Reed Bank PLA‐N/CMS ships unload construction materials Chinese Marine vessel spotted at Bombay Shoal Chinese Marine vessel spotted at Bombay Shoal Two jet aircraft intrude into RP air space China imposes unilateral fishing ban CMS/Salvage Ships intrude into Southern Bank Binh Minh 2 seismic cable cut  Viking 2 seismic cable reportedly cut Viking 2 seismic cable reportedly cut

Explaining China s Behaviour Explaining China’s Behaviour
• Role of multiple Chinese actors in South China Role of multiple Chinese actors in South China  Sea policy • Ultra nationalist voices ‘teach Vietnam a Ultra nationalist voices – teach Vietnam a  second lesson’ • L d hi Leadership transition at next congress of the  ii f h Chinese Communist Party • Build up of civilian maritime jurisdiction  enforcement fleet

4. Drivers of Current Tensions 4. Drivers of Current Tensions
• Energy Security
–Resource nationalism Resource nationalism –National sovereignty

• China‐US geo‐strategic rivalry
–Waning of US primacy –Waning of US primacy

4a.  Energy  Security China’s  Future  Future Energy  gy Needs

Oil and  Gas  Deposits  Deposits in East  Asia

Energy Security
• Chinese estimates are 7 or 8 times  greater than US/Japanese estimates • China: South China sea contains 219 China: South China sea contains 219  billion barrels of oil reserves
• US: 28 billion barrels of oil b ll b l f l

• China: South China Sea oil reserves are  nearly as large as Saudi Arabia

Energy Security
• China estimates that the South China Sea  contains  contains
– 14 times the estimates of its oil reserves and  – 10 times more than its gas reserves 10 times more than its gas reserves

• China claims that it looses about 20 million  tons of oil annually or about 40% of its total  f il ll b 40% f i l offshore production due to the activities of  countries in the South China Sea  t i i th S th Chi S • Peak oil?

Energy Security Energy Security
• CNOOC plans to invest US $31 billion to drill CNOOC plans to invest US $31 billion to drill  800 deep‐water wells in the East Sea, Yellow  Sea and South China Sea with the aim of  Sea and South China Sea with the aim of producing 500 million tons of oil by 2020. • Philippines plans to boost hydrocarbon Philippines plans to boost hydrocarbon  reserves by 40% in next two decades • Vi Vietnam’s domestic gas demand will triple by  ’ d i d d ill i l b 2025 (World Bank)

4b. China US Geo Strategic Rivalry 4b. China‐US Geo‐Strategic Rivalry
• China’s economy will overtake the U.S. • Military modernization
– Submarine fleet + aircraft carrier(s) Submarine fleet  aircraft carrier(s) – Anti‐carrier ballistic missile

• Anti access/area denial Anti‐access/area denial • First and Second island chain • Yulin Naval Base, Hainan Island

Hainan  H i Island

First and Second Island Chains

China’s ‘String of Pearls’

Yulin Naval  Yulin Naval Base, Sanya  5 Aug 05 to  5 A 05 t 28 Feb 08

Yulin Naval Base

USNS Impeccable Incident 2009

Regional Force Modernisation Regional Force Modernisation
• Maritime domain is congested  g and contested • Regional ‘arms dynamic’ l‘ d ’
– Submarines, guided missile frigates ,g g – anti‐ship missiles, stealth technology – UAVs (including sub surface) UAVs (including sub‐surface)

• Territorial defence – the Philippines

• • • • • Sovereignty disputes intractable DOC Guidelines a work in progress Joint development? Joint development? More binding Code of Conduct? China‐US differ on military activities in  EEZs  EEZs
– Incidents at Sea Agreement?

• Force modernization has resulted in  maritime domain becoming more  congested and contested g • Energy nationalism on the rise •R Resource competition could aggravate  ii ld maritime tensions • Maritime Security on regional agenda
– ADMM Plus and East Asia Summit ADMM Plus and East Asia Summit

South China Sea [East Sea, West Philippine Sea]
Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer Regional Studies (Security) Australian Command and Staff College l d d ff ll October 25, 2011

Premier Pham Van Dong’s  Letter 1958 Letter to China L tt 1958 L tt t Chi

• the Government of the  Democratic Republic of  Vietnam (DRVN) recognizes  and supports the declaration  dated 4th September, 1958 of  p , the Government of the  People’s Republic of China   determining territorial  g territorial waters.  • The Government of the DRVN  respects this decision and will  respects this decision and will give instructions to its State  bodies to respect the 12‐mile  territorial waters of China in all  territorial waters of China in all their relations with the [PRC]  in maritime areas.

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