On October 10th 2017, the USS Chafee, a Navy Destroyer, sailed within 12 miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. This was the fourth “freedom of operation” mission since President Trump was inaugurated. The U.S. air force also flew two bombers over the Korean peninsula simultaneously, in another maneuver designed to demonstrate its military might.
These moves were not routine patrols or exercises, but the latest activity in a multi-dimensional chess game in one of the world’s most contested and sensitive regions. The smallest miscalculation from either side could have huge consequences for trillions of dollars in trade and billions of lives, not just in the immediate vicinity but around the globe too.
One Road Research
South China Sea Trade as Percentage of Total Trade
Encircled by Malaysia to the south, the Philippines to the east and Vietnam to the west, the South China Sea is one of the most resource-rich regions on earth and hosts one third of the world’s shipping traffic. It holds a projected 28 billion barrels of oil, 260 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 10% of the world’s fisheries.
Related Story: Chinese report: S. China Sea islands expanded reasonably
BEIJING (Reuters) — China has “reasonably” expanded its islands in the disputed South China Sea and this year construction projects there including radar facilities covered about 290,000 square meters, according to a new government report.