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China tightens its grip over the South China Sea

24-02-2021

Of all the disputed areas claimed by China, the South China Sea (SCS) has been the most prominent in recent years, since it involves the largest number of actors with overlapping claims to maritime features and waters, as well as non-claimant countries, owing to its strategic importance as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. In 2020, China stepped up its salami-slicing tactics to assert its sweeping 'historic' rights, while Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam dismissed them in ...

Of all the disputed areas claimed by China, the South China Sea (SCS) has been the most prominent in recent years, since it involves the largest number of actors with overlapping claims to maritime features and waters, as well as non-claimant countries, owing to its strategic importance as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. In 2020, China stepped up its salami-slicing tactics to assert its sweeping 'historic' rights, while Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam dismissed them in an alignment of positions supported by a 2016 landmark arbitration award under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In 2020, the United States' previous neutral position on China's maritime claims shifted to dismissing them as unlawful. The EU remained attached to its position of not taking sides with either party's claims. Some EU Member States have become more vocal in dismissing China's 'historic' rights and have increased their presence in the SCS. This publication is an update of a briefing published in 2016, PE 586.671.

Australia's 2016 Defence White Paper

06-06-2016

The 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) states that the United States will remain Australia's 'most important strategic partner', while pointing to concerns about China’s growing assertiveness. Defence spending envisaged in the DWP is to increase by approximately 80% over the next ten years, with a quarter of investments going to maritime and anti-submarine warfare. Australia has also launched its largest-ever defence procurement programme, with French firm DCNS selected as its international partner for ...

The 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) states that the United States will remain Australia's 'most important strategic partner', while pointing to concerns about China’s growing assertiveness. Defence spending envisaged in the DWP is to increase by approximately 80% over the next ten years, with a quarter of investments going to maritime and anti-submarine warfare. Australia has also launched its largest-ever defence procurement programme, with French firm DCNS selected as its international partner for the AU$50 billion (€34.3 billion) future submarine programme.

Opening of new Arctic shipping routes

31-08-2010

Neither the Northwest nor the Northeast Passage has so far become important in international shipping. Nevertheless, the prospects should be re-assessed in light of new circumstances in the Arctic, especially the changing ice situation which makes it possible to envisage a future with drastically increased shipping activity. This paper argues, however, that developments on the two sea routes in question today are not straight forward. In the case of the Northwest Passage, ice problems are expected ...

Neither the Northwest nor the Northeast Passage has so far become important in international shipping. Nevertheless, the prospects should be re-assessed in light of new circumstances in the Arctic, especially the changing ice situation which makes it possible to envisage a future with drastically increased shipping activity. This paper argues, however, that developments on the two sea routes in question today are not straight forward. In the case of the Northwest Passage, ice problems are expected to remain a major limiting factor for many years and the Canadian authorities are not actively promoting international usage of the route, something which is partly related to legal controversies over the status of the passage. In the case of the Northeast Passage, Russia actively advertises its Northern Sea Route, seeing rapidly improving ice conditions. However, the commercial conditions remain uncertain and necessary investments in icebreakers and infrastructure are so far missing. The Northern Sea Route may, besides its regional usage, especially in the western part, have the potential for limited transits in the most favourable season. The Russian vision of year-round transit traffic seems quite unrealistic within the perspective of this decade.

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Arild MOE and Øystein JENSEN, Fridtjof Nansen Institute

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