11 April 2018
Closer business ties with Beijing could lead tiny, economically strapped Brunei to open a potentially oil-rich tract of sea to Chinese exploration despite competing sovereignty claims, experts say.
The two countries contest rights to a rectangular tract of the South China Sea extending northwest from the island of Borneo. But ties have improved while the Bruneian economy slips because of declining world oil prices and diminishing supplies. Oil and gas make up 60 percent of Brunei’s economy.
Growing economic dependence on China could compel Brunei to soften its maritime claim, said Alan Chong, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“Every one of the claimants on the Belt and Road admits some concessions,” Chong said.
For China to push Brunei away from its claim, he said, “at the end of the day they have to sell the Bruneians something so significant that the Bruneians will be prepared to do so.”
CMS / GPO / Online / Print
Last updated on 12/04/2018