Thursday, March 24, 2011

Asia: Oil, climate, conflict

A British company has been surveying for oil by Philippine request in waters China says is theirs.

Energy & Capital / China's Next Oil War:
China’s energy demand is insatiable. The country's state-owned oil firms are on an international buying spree and a disputed group of islands in the South China Sea could be the catalyst for the next oil war. [...] Learning from the West, China is picking up a big stick and enforcing its territorial claims... After all, the West has a long history of military adventures regarding rebels who sit on oil patches. [...] Today, China warned against any oil exploration without its consent in waters it claims in the South China Sea. This comes after a Philippine announcement that Forum Energy had completed a seismic survey for a piece of ocean near the Spratly Islands. The next step would be drilling. The oil-rich Spratlys are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and China. [...] The Spratlys are a group of 100 islands that cover 410,000 square kilometers. Some 45 of these islands are occupied by small military units. In recent years, various countries have been building airstrips and bunkers to protect their claims — which, up until recently, have been used as fishing stations and scuba Meccas. But battles have been fought in the past..., a historical military website, writes: "In 1988, China and Vietnam fought a naval battle, off the Spratly islands. The Chinese victory, in which a Chinese warship sank a Vietnamese transport carrying troops headed for one of the disputed islands, was followed by Chinese troops establishing garrisons on some of the islands. In 1992, Chinese marines landed on Da Lac reef, in the Spratly Islands. In 1995, Chinese marines occupied Mischief Reef, which was claimed by the Philippines." It is clear China intends to defend its claims over the Spratly islands. It is unknown how these conflicts will be resolved. [...] Oil is the lifeblood of the world economy. Eight of the last nine recessions in the U.S were preceded by high oil prices.

Elsewhere: AFP / China warns against S. China Sea oil exploration, Philippine Star / China's military dominance over Spratlys affecting international trade.

In slightly related news, I just updated my collection of climate change and COP-15 related cables in the Wikileaks "cablegate". This time a headline from a Japanese agenda dated 26th of June 2009 read: "Japan-U.S. Sea Power Dialogue [...] Study the possibility of the security environment worsening due to climate change."


  1. Read more about “China claims Spratly Islands over Philippines” at

  2. FP / The brinkmanship in the South China Sea
    "Vietnam is conducting live-fire drills in the South China Sea in a show that it won't be intimidated in a push-and-shove dispute with China over waters suspected of containing significant oil reserves. Over the weekend, Hanoi urged its former enemy -- the United States -- to help pull the row back from the flashpoint, reports the Financial Times' Ben Bland. In this case, the U.S. will oblige -- to a degree.

    Last Friday, the U.S. State Department said it is "troubled" by the rise in tensions. Though for the last year the U.S. has met a request by southeast Asian nations to resist its instincts to defend them, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last summer suggested the nation was prepared to do, one can imagine a sturdy U.S. response in the Vietnam situation. Not to say that President Barack Obama would dispatch an aircraft carrier square into the disputed zone -- the U.S. will stay well back from rattling its war sword. But there could be stern new warnings from Clinton among other steps, under the presumption that Beijing will temper its behavior accordingly."


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