The South China Sea, which stretches from the Karimata and Malacca Straits to the Taiwan Strait, is a marginal sea in the Pacific Ocean. One-third of the world’s shipping passes through the sea every year, carrying over $3 trillion in trade. It also has hugely profitable fisheries, which are critical for millions of people in Southeast Asia’s food security.
Its seabed is thought to hold vast reserves of oil and gas. The most important ones are shipping straits and strategies. The sea has a significant impact on China’s security, power, influence, and economy. It wasn’t about the Chinese men, as the Chinese conclusion on their failure to colonize the Middle Kingdom put it, but “it was because of outdated systems, poor equipment, and ignorance of maritime strategy.”
China’s deterrence strategy is based on “advantaged position” and fear of “encirclement.” On the land borders, China is surrounded by many powerful countries; internal risks of Tibet and Xinjiang; Japan in a long and vast ocean and islands; and US navies and ships that can travel closer to China under the terms “Free Navigation” and “International Law.”
Henry Kissinger’s ideas are that: a) China feels threatened by American navies because, if a war breaks out, b) America and its allies will rush to the land and cities of China; c) as a result, China must draw American navies as far away as possible; d) China invests heavily in navy power due to bitter invasion experience and ignorance of maritime strategy; and e) if a war breaks out, it will fight on the sea. “We guarantee your access to the sea; we do not bloc,” China says in the confidential agreement. “No, we don’t require your assurance,” America responds. It’s a completely free navigation system.” We travel in accordance with international law.”