02 May 2018
China has carried out deepwater exploration in an energy-rich area of the disputed South China Sea, its minerals research agency said on Wednesday.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said China was trying to make use of its technology to get the advantage in resource exploration over its rivals in the South China Sea.
“There are certainly commercial, economic and military benefits that can be derived from these [scientific expeditions],” Koh said, adding that they could be interpreted in various ways, “including allegations of military muscle-flexing”.
“More pertinently, these activities are broadly also interpreted as part of the larger schema of Beijing’s quest to dominate the South China Sea,” he said.
Koh said that with Beijing expected to continue investing in marine scientific research, other Southeast Asian states would find it difficult to catch up because they lacked funding, assets and expertise.
He added that while militarisation in the South China Sea tended to get attention, marine scientific research activities helped to “further one’s claim to a disputed area”.
“In the absence of an officially outlined South China Sea strategy, we can piece together what China has been doing thus far … These all contribute towards the broader aims of not just enhancing China’s maritime power stature, but give it the necessary strategic leverage or even bargaining chips to handle the disputes,” he said.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 03/05/2018