U.S. Warships Enter Disputed Waters as Tensions With China Escalate

China denies US claims of a standoff near Malaysian waters

In all cases where China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea conflict with another nation, the US is backing the other nation. This looks to be coming to a new dangerous moment, as US warships enter the area to confront a Chinese research ship.

The research ship is near Malaysia-claimed waters, and there are claims the Chinese ship is following a Malaysian state oil company ship that is conducting exploratory drilling. The US said this was “bullying behavior,” and sent warships to the area.

China denied US claims of a “standoff,” saying the research ship is conducting normal business. Malaysia and Vietnam have both made claims on territorial waters which China also claims.

The South China Sea is believed to have a lot of offshore energy reserves, and China’s substantial claims are believed to be at least in part an effort to ensure that they get a share of that energy, if indeed it eventually is exploited.

Since the other nations in these disputes broadly don’t have internal abilities to exploit offshore oil and gas, US involvement is likely being done both to spite China, and with an eye toward getting US companies lucrative service contracts in the future.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.