China’s Claim On The South China Sea Sparks Global Tension

The tussle over the resource-rich waters is about more than just a grab for territory

Sep 15, 2015 at 3:46 PM ET

The mineral-rich waters of the South China Sea lap at the shores of six southeast Asian countries, all with an eye to capitalizing on its natural resources as well as its strategic position as a key shipping route. No country has been more aggressive in its ambitions regarding the tract of water than China. Beijing has been reportedly reclaiming land on tiny islands and building military-grade airstrips as part of its bid to stake its claim.

Other countries declaring an interest in the South China Sea include Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia, which also have airstrips in the contested waters, although none that could sustain the military equipment and aircraft like the runways China is developing.

More Why China’s Military Isn’t As Mighty As You Think

The U.S. military has already had several near-confrontations with Chinese navy in the area. The growing Chinese military presence is likely to be on the agenda when Chinese President Xi Jinping meets President Obama in Washington next week.