CHINA’S STRATEGY AND AGGRESSION IN THE EAST AND SOUTH CHINA SEAS: HOW MUCH OF IT IS DRIVEN BY UNDERSEA OIL AND NATURAL GAS?
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Chinese aggression in the East and South China Sea has been a flash point for Pacific affairs since the 1960’s. As China’s economy increasingly needs oil and natural gas resources, how much of China’s aggression and/or claims in the area are due to the existence of oil and natural gas resources? This research identifies the theoretical background behind national strategy and energy strategy, and collects data about Chinese national strategy, the energy resource metrics (historical and present) specific to China and the East and South China Sea, and the evolution of the conflict in the area. Much research exists around these separate topics, in general and specifically focused on China. Identifying general national strategies, how countries execute those strategies, and the theories behind energy as a driver of national strategy will build a framework from which to review the current Chinese energy security situation and identify the effect this has on its strategy in the South and East China Seas. The results showed that while oil and natural gas may look like a main driver of the conflict, and may actually be a partial driver, Chinese national strategy does not align with the idea that oil and natural gas resources are the main driver for their aggression in the area. The identified economic and energy market metrics show that the resources gained by China claiming the South and East China Sea pales in comparison to their needs, the lack of progression in extraction of these energy resources shows the difficulty in extraction, and the conflict timeline dispute that energy is a driver.