Why China Wants Control Of The South China Sea In 10 Charts

Tyler Durden's picture

A stunning $5.3 trillion in goods cross South China Sea every year, and as we previously explained, 190 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves sit below the ocean floor - enough to replace China's natural gas imports for over a century - so it is hardly surprising that the world's largest importer of oil wants control of such a critical region.


As Bloomberg illustrates in these 10 incredible graphics, everyone has a claim on the same territory and tensions are rising. “The Chinese believe they have the right to be a great power,” said Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “What we are seeing is a hardening of China’s stance about its place in the world.”



What's at stake...


The Claims...


The Chaos...


As Bloomberg concludes,

The ambitions of China’s leaders don’t stop at the nine-dash line.


China’s ultimate long-term goal is to obtain parity with U.S. naval capacity in the Pacific,” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, adjunct professor at the Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This is a long-term proposition. At this stage the Chinese understand they don’t have the capacity to take on the U.S. head-on.”


China is testing the limits of America’s alliance relationships in Asia,” said Storey. “By pushing and probing and essentially showing that the U.S. isn’t willing to respond to these provocations, it is undermining those alliances and hence ultimately U.S. credibility and U.S. power over the long term.”


There are two schools of thought on the eventual outcome of China’s ascendancy, according to Rory Medcalf, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.


One argues that dominance of the South China Sea is an inevitable outcome of China’s economic and military expansion. The other says that China will have to curb its ambitions or risk provoking a conflict, even war, which could draw in the U.S.


It’s not possible to judge which scenario ends up proving right, said Medcalf. “The story is only beginning.”

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CrazyCooter's picture

Seriously? Who drew those boundaries for the SCS? Extending past Indonesia ... don't they have the South Indonesia Sea?



CrazyCooter's picture

Don't disagree. I personally spend money on maps; I hang them in my office at work and at home.

What point were you making? Just wanted to clarify ...



max2205's picture

Are those charts log scale?

CrazyCooter's picture


According to Wiki ... The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world's oceans, extending from the Arctic in the north to Antarctica in the south. Covering 169.2 million square kilometers, it is larger than all of the Earth's land area combined.


If one takes a look at fisheries, China reports basically 20% of the entire worlds "capture" fish harvest ...


Can anyone in global commercial fishing add some salt to that? This has to be on the high seas at large (i.e. international waters). I don't know exactly how that works otherwise.

Maybe I hire some high dollar Easter Island Inc. consultants to help me with projections? Those guys are Pacfic, right?



old naughty's picture

Those maps are darkly surreal, no?

Key words: "...just beginning." We shall see.

btw, some believe the largest ocean is below the surface.


svayambhu108's picture

The more I see the Malaca strait the more I think of the two malayesian airlines like a warning to the chinese:

See we can do it in the plain sight and we have the articulate media with us.


I bet chinese strategist when think of Malaysia first thing they think about the strait.

At this point China doesn't have a serious international television that matches RT, I think evene Press is better.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

When I look at those claims, its obvious that Taiwan and Vietnam's claims will be acquired by China.  One by force, the other through vassaldom.

old naughty's picture

If NWO is to render all borders disappear...then we must be awaken to the soon-to-be "reality"; and thinking along nation's borders would not bring solution(s) but more conflicts.

But then we must think out of the box/matrix to "nullify" their execution of their agenda, no?

Thirtyseven's picture

The persian Gulf has been so named since BCE time due to Persia being one of, if not the, most powerful empires at the time.  Why isn't it called the Arabian gulf when so many on the peninsula wish it to be so and even identify it as such on their own maps? 

Well, when was Arabia ever a strong geopolitical center?  Even after Mohammed the centers of power quickly moved to Baghdad, Damascus and Shiraz.  When the oil runs out they will be nothing again, except for having a meteorite on a pedestal and a large black rock nearby.

But why is the Arabian Sea to the west of India and below Pakistan?  There are stranger things to be seen on maps and for stranger reasons.


CrazyCooter's picture

So, your point is ... "on a long enough timeline" ... ?

My point was that the "South China Sea" as presented has precisely zero to do with China and is really just a sort of "China really can project power in this area - really" sort of hand wave magic trick ... presumably by someone that wants to sell China (investments).

Belive in that shit? Get long Mandaran and go sink six or seven (or eight) figures in China.

Look at food supplies, energy supplies, and demographics. China loses, loses, and loses again.

China ain't running shit in that neck of the woods (except Japan - they are ripe for someone to pick).



Wild Theories's picture

The point is, many geographic locations are named by the first/dominant users of that location. 


- Cyprus is physically closer to the middle-east, yet it is Greek in origin because Greeks settled it first and have been there since Mycenaen Greek period(that's Troy and Achilles times). Even though Turks have contested Cyprus and are obviously stronger than the Greeks, Cyrus still remains more Greek than Turkish simply because the Greek part of its history is way longer than the Turkish part.

- The Persian Gulf is so named because the Persians were the first to traverse it, Muslim Arab states along the Perssian gulf came along much later than the Persians. When Persians were first sailing the gulf(think war with the Greeks, scanty persian dancers, BC times) before the birth of Islam, most of the Arabs in the area were just tribal herdsman still scratching sand between their toes.

- The South China Sea is so named because the Chinese were the first to traverse it, and they used it more than others. Before European arrvial in Asia, the Phillipinos had been barely out of the jungle and didn't even have boats bigger than tree trunks. Whilst the Singaporean Chinese population were brought to Singapore during European colonization as workers for the British, the ethnic Chinese population in Malaysia have been there for many generations and are mostly descendants of settled Chinese sea merchants that predate European arrival in Asia.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Chinese historically didn't sail west of Malaysia much.  Currents and winds, AFAIK.  A lot easier to sail from India to China than vice versa, by that reckoning.


Hence their presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Manila, etc.

conscious being's picture

HRD - re. Chinese west of Malaysia not much due to wind and current??

I don't think you are a sailor. June to September the winds blow out of the SouthWest. October to May, they reverse direction every year. Wait for the wind that best suits your direction of travel. Westbound, use the Straits of Malacca. Eastbound, use the Sunda Strait to go with the flow, ie. Current.

Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta talk a lot about Chinese junks in the India Ocean. Each sailed on several. Marco comanded at least one that was to take his party from China, across the Indian Ocean to Arabia [He was escorting a Chinese princess.] They each were shipwrecked on more than one.

Full disclosure, I have no dog in this fight.

401K of Dooom's picture

BCE?  Don't you mean "BC"?  You're not being politically correct, are you?

Lin S's picture

All your map are belong to us.

what's that smell's picture
Why China Wants Control Of The South China Sea In 10 Charts.... Why US Wants Control Of The South China Sea In 10 Charts. fixed.
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

A 5th grader can probably figure out that the Chinese need these islands as naval bases for ships to monitor and protect their oil tankers.  Actually, my 5th grader did figure this out.

The US is scared to death to have Malaysia and Indonesia "go Chinese".  Japan also.  You can tell that the CIA/NSA are really putting the screws to Malaysia.

CrazyCooter's picture

The current batch of politicos in any country can only get away with what the people let them get away with ... this is a careful balancing act ... if, as you suggest, the US is leaning that hard on Malaysia, then they are resisting for a substantial reason.

Case in point; Iraq.



Totentänzerlied's picture

Yep, until ZH put up a map of Chinese South China Sea claims a week or so ago, I'd never seen how very, very absurd they are. It is like Britain claiming everything from Iceland to the Strait of Gibraltar to the Baltic Sea (which it, of course, tried to, for a time, in addition to controlling the Mediterranean, and as I just learned, still owns Gibraltar).

"Who drew those boundaries for the SCS?"

I'll give you 3 guesses...

NoDebt's picture

Their version of the Monroe Doctrine.  Not all that hard to understand for an up-and-coming world power.  Ours was declared in the early 1800s, as we were quickly emerging as a regional power, but long before becoming a world power.

This process will happen much more quickly for China, of course, as all things in the modern world happen more quickly than in the past.

darteaus's picture

Monroe Doctrine:

"...further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention.  At the same time, the doctrine noted that the United States would [not] interfere with existing European colonies..."

China Doctrine:

"It's ours."

CrazyCooter's picture

My point is there are many countries in this area and the "South China Sea" is being almost treated as "Pacific". Many countries in this area have sovereign claims on what is being presented as "Chinese" though the use of the language "South China Sea" in the first map.

Very much NOT the case.

Indonesia. Vietnam. Malaysia. Philippines. FFS, while we are at it, let's cut out Korea and Japan out of the map just to keep shit simple. They obviously don't give a pinch of coon shit about trade traffic in the region as presented, so why include them?

All of these nations (as I listed and more) require water/shipping access to export/import and all will treat such access as par to national security. Hell, when you get North Pacific, you are talking Russia as well via Vladivostok.

Now, if China wants to sink every ship that isn't approved with packs of subs to force submission (sound familiar?), then that is a different ballgame, but that isn't the proposition is it?

Me thinks the Asia bulls (Faber, Rogers, etc) are busy trying to find idiots to unload their investments on, because that is one part of the world which is very long on people (with a heavy male bias) and very short on diplomacy. Hell VN was essentially rioting over a Chinese dry well off their coast. Both China and Japan are epic monetary messes and Korea isn't far behind.

And on top of all that, everyone is lined up to Tijuana Donkey Show Japanese comfort men in a long postponed yet quite overdue payback for His Imperial Jackass Hirohito's WW2 shenanigans as it is still widely perceived that the Japanese still think the only problem with WW2 is that they didn't win.



hedgiex's picture

Yes China not that stupid to use force on SE Asia which anyway is filled with crony governments that they can bribe. This they have learnt well from US.

Never has it been a better time for China to push the envelope signaling the end of will and money in US for SE Asia to be still in the contest for economic hegemony.

Yes the Faber & Roger are spinning on stability in this place with China tilting towards a hard landing and who has the greatest impact of these economies in its backyard.

However, will not write off Japan who has forged a much more benign win-win tie with the Young Middle Class Asians who are prepared to move on. This class matters and is hostile towards China and neutral towards US. (US moving fast delineating this group by same idiotic support of their as said many crony leaders).

Urban Redneck's picture

I'm looking for the comparable US & European colonies on that map of the South China Sea... but there aren't any.

Moreover, the US commitment not to interfere with the internal affairs of other nations and their colonies wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Big Businesses' interests, dual-citizens, financing rebellions, gun running, and manipulating or accepting the mechanisms of international law only so long as outcomes were favorable to the USSA -- neither the strategy nor tactics have significantly changed in over 100 years.

The Monroe Doctrine was American hypocrisy at its finest. Now we have a cheap imitation with large publicly traded interests dictating terms with the help of their friends in Langley and their little pet Obongo.

Winston Churchill's picture

The Monroe doctrine wasn't effective either.

Britain controled in S. America until WWI.That loss of the S.American trade was the true death

knell of Pax Britannia.Only during WWI did US dominance over S.America become de facto.

The written  history has been distorted as usual.

Bear's picture

Oh damn, is that's what's happening to me in bed ... Not the Monroe Doctrine, the other thing happening faster than in the past

max2205's picture

JFK had a Monroe doctrine. ....didn't work out too well for either one of them.

NYPoke's picture

It is the Chinese Version of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona & California.

The Alarmist's picture

I thought it was just an attempt to secure their trademark.  It is the China sea, after all.  Seriously, I'm actually surprised Russia and China have not more publicly invoked their own versions of the Monroe Doctrine for their respective spheres of influence and pointed to the precedent set by the US.

CrazyCooter's picture

Curiously, the google search "site:zerohedge.com "Monroe Doctrine"" finds this post as its top result (with a two days old timestamp - haha).

And the second (and third) result was ... wait for it ... The Diplomat! Comedy gold!

What is up with all the Monroe Doctrine citations this thread?

Seriously guys, just step up the logical banter a bit and stop relying on this cheap "stay it alot and sound smart" crap they use on MSM.



Hongcha's picture

Looking at the list of countries with claims ... my money is on China in that race.

Atomizer's picture

Just ass monkeys that think they'll land on the seat of world government. 


Stuck on Zero's picture

This is the day and age of "Smart Mines." That means that whoever feels they've lost the battle for the South China Sea's assets will mine the whole area and deprive everyone of the reputed benefits.


toady's picture

Straits of Malacca dude.

Want to fuck up the whole deal?

Straits of Malacca.

Bear's picture

What we are seeing is a hardening of China’s stance about its place in the world.” ... just as our Empire has gutted itself with Emperior Obama ... Ugh!!

Oh, and now it makes infinite sense that we are alienating Russia at every turn.

The world sees that we are no longer engaged or even interested and they are rushing to act in the next two years. 

Binko's picture

The growth of Chinese power was fueled 100% by Western greed and short-sightedness. We sent them the vast majority of the world's productive base in return for cheap consumer goods and short-term profits.

History may view this as perhaps the greatest geo-political blunder of all time because the Chinese adamantly believe that their destiny is to be the dominant power on earth and we, in our foolishness, have given them the wealth to pursue their plans.

You really have to laugh to think about a vast Chinese navy built from profits from all the junk sold at the Walmart's of the western world.

Omen IV's picture

yes but it proves that the Washingtom looks continuously at short term goals

Ukraine is another example - they could be fostering relationship with Russia instead the create the problem

everything that happened with China is about destroying the Unions in the US - the long term effect of empowering China they didnt care about in 1990

now the chickens coming home in China and Russia emergence and we have to go to war due to myopia of DC

name a President you had any respect for beyond IKE, JFK, Nixon since WWII?

COSMOS's picture

LOL the irony is so strong, back in the the colonial days we were dumping opium on them and making them a third world nation.  Now they are dumping cheap plastic crap on us via the Walmart hopium dens.  The last emperor would of been very pleased.

Vendetta's picture

They made themselves a 3rd world nation back then just like the corruption of DC is making the US a 3rd world nation today.

Lin S's picture

Now, just hold on a sec! I have endless respect and admiration for... er, umm...

...yeah I've got nothin'.

toady's picture

You lost me with Nixon, but agreed on everything else.

11b40's picture

Nixon! Are you ducking frunk?

Totentänzerlied's picture

"they could be fostering relationship with Russia"

Where's the money in that?

"instead the create the problem" and then sell the solution, now we're talkin'!

yrbmegr's picture

China has a very long history, and very deep culture, of not caring about the rest of the world.  China has always regarded itself as a regional hegemon, and nothing more.  They will cease to care, and become embroiled in regional conflicts on all sides, before making a bid for global dominion.

Leraconteur's picture

That regional hegemony will include The Pacific Ocean, Australia and the Strait of Malacca.

Remember The Monroe Doctrine? Manifest Destiny? 54-40 or Fight?

The USA, the world great power and current #2 economy, simply declared itself.


Justification came later.

The Chinese are following the playbook, unfortunately the industrialised world handed them the tools and money and foolishly thought this would alter their thinkiing to post-Enlightenmient, modern values, social democracy and all that silliness.

Wrong, round eye. 

The USA took what it wanted and just by saying so.

China will do the same.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Perhaps you're right.  But you DO know that the mastermind behind Nixon's China Policy was [drum-roll]... Henry Kissinger.

The same guy who also advised him to go off the gold standard.  Is Kissinger a Globalist?  Probably.  Very probably.

conscious being's picture

ZH just had a op about the ongoing power shake up in China since the Bo Xilai scandal broke, the English financial fixer was poisoned scandal.

Bo's boss Zhou? is now under attack in local social media. One of the accusations that he has to deal with is that he hosted, in his house, not too long ago, the evil Henry Kissenger.

Finally Captain, you are a good man, but you need to get off the BitCoin tractor beam / vulcan mind warp. It is useful to dodge currency controls, but otherwise, leads nowhere as a store of value. 1st mover advantage fades. Conscious Being out. Closes flip phone.