“The immediate source of conflict in the region is
competition over resources.” (Rosenberg,
D. 2010. Governing the South China Sea: from freedom of the seas to ocean
enclosure movements. Harvard Asia Quarterly, 12(3), 4.). The
South China Sea contains large amount of proved and probable oil reserves, and
countries in this region and eager to extract these, which offer great economic
opportunity smaller nations like Malaysia, Vietnam, and energy security for
growing China’s economy. In December 2012, China’s National Energy
Administration named the disputed area as the “main offshore site” for natural
gas production, and a major Chinese energy company has already begun drilling
in deep water off the southern coast.
Approximately half a billion people living within 100 miles
of the South China Sea coastline; and the maritime trade flows through this
region has boomed leading to China and ASEAN nations increasing the
international trade. Providing passage for incoming commodities, the states of
Maritime Asia also have deeply interdependent trade relations among themselves.
China and ASEAN, China and Japan, and Japan and ASEAN states have strong
relations. Especially, The China and ASEAN trade relationship is strongest.
The United States has treaty allies in the region, sends
ships through the South China Sea regularly. It more to do with “returning to
Asia” a policy by Obama to reinsert US power in Asia.
The US played an indirect but important role in advocating
Manila’s decision to go to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (resolving disputes between member
states, international organizations)
over Chinese claims and actions in the South China Sea. And also, no vital US
interest has been compromised. Shipping continues uninterrupted, while the
United States ignores its requirement for prior approval for military
operations in China’s exclusive economic zone. The US Navy and Air Force
continues to sail, fly and operate where international law permits.
Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US should “send China a clear
signal that, first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those
islands also is not going to be allowed.”. The
Chinese having difficulty understanding why the US takes a stand on the issue
and also they want to see the US abandon the South China Sea and withdraw from
the western Pacific. This region has become important to the US because of
China’s challenge to the liberal rules-based order that America has promoted
since the Pacific war. To maintain its geopolitical position in the western
Pacific, the US is need to defend the regional alliance system, and encourage
local states who are concerned about China’s intentions. Leaving this region to
China would weaken that alliance system and America’s presence in the western
Pacific. China would become the dominant power in the area and regional countries
would gravitate towards it.
Some say that the U.S. facing a dilemma and tough balancing
act in the region. Because some countries in ASEAN would like to play more
forceful role to counter China, and some others want to decrease U.S.