Reuters’ Peter Apps posted an interesting piece yesterday on the rising tensions in the East China Sea, and elsewhere, over resources. Apps quotes the Center for Naval Analyses’ Eric Thompson at length:
‘These disputes are definitely coming back into fashion,’ says Eric Thompson, head of strategic studies at the Centre for Naval Analyses, which provides analysis to the U.S. Navy and Pentagon amongst other clients as part of larger US-government funded think tank CNA.
‘You have profound geopolitical shifts… that are making certain states much more politically, economically and militarily more assertive. Then, you have new technologies that are putting resources within reach that would have been either unknown or impossible to access only a few years ago.’
The article also quotes former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret), who points out heightened tensions over new minerals and rare earths, and oft-ignored disputes over fisheries:
“You have energy reserves, you have fish stocks – which are particularly essential to the Asian diet and which I think we too often ignore – and increasingly you are going to have interest in undersea minerals and rare earths.”
As Will Rogers at the Center for a New American Security noted in a recent report on the South China Sea, warming oceans as a result of climate change can lead to dramatic changes in fish stocks, which could increase uncertainty, and exacerbate tensions between nations bordering the Sea. Furthermore, as Rogers highlights, policies designed to limit hydrological sources of power, and spur renewable energy development, can also lead to increased competition over seabed resources and rare earth minerals.
While the South China Sea is a primary focus for many security analysts these days, the East China Sea is also worth watching.