Tensions in the South China Sea are rising, pitting China against smaller and weaker neighbors who all lay claim to islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves. China’s recent construction of artificial islands complete with airstrips and radar stations, and U.S. patrols challenging Beijing’s vast territorial claims, have caused concern that the strategically important waters could become a flashpoint.
A look at some of the most recent key developments:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.
INDONESIA, MALAYSIA WORRIED
Vietnam and the Philippines have been China’s most frequent South China Sea adversaries, but now Indonesia and Malaysia are upset over forays by Chinese vessels close to their shores.
Tensions with Indonesia flared when one of its patrol ships intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel on March 19 off the Natuna Islands. That’s where Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone overlaps with China’s so-called “nine-dash line” — which outlines Beijing’s vast claims to almost the entire South China Sea.