Tensions in the South China Sea have been percolating for years now. Even in relatively calm times when the battling claimants of the contested waters manage to stay out of the headlines, the reality out on the sea is rarely tranquil. In fact, a recent report from the South China Morning Post has revealed that Chinese boats have been harassing Civilian vessels in the Malaysian and Vietnamese portions of the South China Sea “on a daily basis” for years.
Extending from Singapore and the Strait of Malacca in the southwest to the Strait of Taiwan in the northeast, the South China Sea is a geopolitical hotspot as one of the most important trade routes in the world, not to mention the home of valuable oil and gas reserves as well as lucrative fishing grounds. The United States Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates that the South China Sea “contains approximately 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves.”