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Friday, June 7, 2013

Malaysia Pushes Joint Development to Solve Asia Sea Disputes

There are several insignificant islands in Southeast Asia whose ownership is disputed. The islands themselves are of no particular use, but the territorial rights to undersea resources that accompany those islands are. This story showed up on Bloomberg today:
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called for claimants in the South China Sea to jointly develop resources to avoid conflict and prevent “extra-regional states” from becoming involved.
Najib cited a joint development zone in waters claimed by Thailand and Malaysia as a precedent that could be applied in the South China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines reject China’s map as a basis for joint development in the waters, part of which are also claimed by Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
“Agreeing to share prosperity, rather than let it divide us, is infinitely preferable to the alternative,” Najib said in a speech yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.
Competition for oil, gas and fish threatens to disrupt the estimated two-thirds of global trade that passes through the waters. China favors joint development of resources, while the U.S., Japan and the Philippines advocate international arbitration.
Najib said a code of conduct for operating in the waters would be a “good start” to prevent tensions from escalating. He warned that involving unspecified “extra-regional states” may “add yet another layer of complexity to the dispute.”
“For Asian nations, this problem is ours to solve,” Najib said. “Should we stray from the path of dialogue and cooperation, we may pave the way for other parties to take remedial action to protect the freedom of navigation and safe passage.”
“Extra-regional states”? I wonder who he was thinking of. And then there was this: China favors joint development of resources, while the U.S., Japan and the Philippines advocate international arbitration.

Of course it's hard to tell what China really favors being as they are so inscrutable (other than total world domination, bwah hah hah hah hah). Naturally the U.S. would favor arbitration. I mean we are a half a world a way, how else could we justify stirring that pot? And you can bet stirring it is our intention, because sure as shooting we are hoping to get our fingers on some of that pie.
     Now that it looks like we are finally starting to pull out of Afghanistan, I'm sure our national security advisers are looking for someplace else we can pick a fight. Isn't it about Southeast Asia's turn again? Otherwise it's gonna be Africa. I'm not sure which one would be worse.

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