The People’s Republic of China’s primary foreign policy concerns are energy security and trade. Its industrial might and economic strength continues to multiply requiring significant resources from around the world. The sea lines of communication (SLOC) between China and the Middle East and Africa are the most vital and China has invested heavily in expanding and modernizing its Navy to protect this route denying potential adversaries the ability to influence Chinese policy by cutting these vital lines and rolling back adversaries away from the Chinese mainland.
Recently China has been pursuing a more aggressive policy by challenging its neighbors over the various islands and atolls in the South China Sea. It has shown particular interest in the Spratly Islands and Atolls which while sparse offer a very strategic position to controlling the greater South China Sea. It started its invasion with significant naval patrols and has grown into massive land reclamation projects transforming many deserted atolls into useful island air bases and ports allowing the PRC to dominate the region and have the potential to project power further south.
China’s neighbors have hardly been sitting idle while this take over has slowly occurred. Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all have claims within the Spratly’s and have challenged China on the waters and in international court a number of times. Vietnam lost a vicious naval skirmish in 1988 over South Johnson Reef and the Philippines recently won its challenge to PRC territorial claims although the results were ignored. China believes a post World War 2 map depicting a nine dash line defines its maritime territory almost as far as Indonesia. It now has the military capacity to defend this claim as independently no regional power can challenge them. They are winning the dispute by virtue of being the largest local military power and willing to use it to bully the small nations out of the region.
Source: The Publisher Website.