South China Sea Energy Profile: Critical World Trade Route And Potential Source Of Hydrocarbons

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It would be the last that the 19 th -century world would see of Sir John Franklin and his crew members. But the Arctic that swallowed world oil reserves and trade routes Franklin expedition is disappearing, its vast ice sheets thinning, its frozen straits thawing. How that contest plays out has much to do with the flawed legacies of World War II, which may go a long way toward determining whether the Arctic will become a theater of cooperation or—in the words of former NATO commander and U.

There are also significant coal and iron ore deposits. As the ice world oil reserves and trade routes, new fishing zones are opening up, and—most importantly—so are shipping routes that trim thousands of miles off voyages, saving enormous amounts of time and money.

Expanding trade will stimulate shipbuilding, the opening of new ports, and economic growth, especially in East Asia. Traffic in the Northern Sea Route across Russia—formerly known as the Northeast Passage—is still modest but on the uptick. The easiest of the northern routes to traverse, the passage has seen an increase in shippingfrom four vessels in to 71 in And for the first time in historya liquid natural gas tanker—the Ob River —made the trip in On a run from HammerfestNorway to Tobata, Japan, the ship took only nine days to traverse the passage, cutting almost half the distance off the normal route through the Suez Canal.

Which is not to say that the Northern Sea Passage is a stroll in the garden. The Arctic may world oil reserves and trade routes retreating, but it is still a dangerous and stormy place, not far removed from the conditions that killed Franklin and his men. A lack of detailed maps is an ongoing problem, and most ships require the help of expensive icebreakers. But world oil reserves and trade routes the first time, specially reinforced tankers are making the run on their own.

Tensions in the region arise from two sources: The conflicts range from serious to somewhat silly. In the latter category was the planting of a small Russian flag on the seabed beneath world oil reserves and trade routes North Pole by private explorer Artur Chilingarov, a stunt that even the Moscow government dismissed as theatrics. Moscow argues that the huge Lomonosov Ridgewhich divides the Arctic Ocean into two basins and runs under the Pole, originates in Russia.

Canada and Denmark also claim the ridge as well. Canada organized an expedition this past summer to find out what really happened to Franklin and his two ships. The search world oil reserves and trade routes a success—one of the ships was found in Victoria Straits—but the goal was political, not archaeological: Ottawa is using the find to lay claim to the World oil reserves and trade routes Passage.

China may be a thousand miles from the nearest ice floe, but as the second largest economy in the world, it has no intention of being left out in the cold. Formed inthe council consists of the border states, plus the indigenous people that populate the vast frozen area.

Japan and South Korea are also observers. As Canadian researcher Kimie Hara recently discovered, the U. The tensions that those issues generate make it easier for the United States to maintain a robust military presence in the region. Thus, China and Japan are involved in a dangerous dispute over the uninhibited islands in the East China Sea—called the Diaoyus by China and the Senkakus by Japan—because the Treaty did not designate which country had sovereignty.

If it comes to a military confrontation, the United States is bound by treaty to support Japan. Any ships traversing the East and South China seas on the way north will find themselves in the middle of several nasty territorial disputes. In theory, the economic potential of the Arctic routes should pressure the various parties to reach an amicable resolution of their differences, but things are complicated these days.

But then in July, Tokyo joined Western sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, and negotiations have gone into the freezer. At least for world oil reserves and trade routes present, China and Russia are allies and trade partners, and both would like to see a diminished role for the U.

The tensions have even generated some good old-fashioned paranoia. At the same time, the international tools to resolve such disputes currently exist. The first step is a commitment to put international law—such as the Law of the Seas Convention—over national interests. For all the potential for conflict, there is a solid basis for cooperation in the Arctic. There are common environmental issues. The Arctic is a delicate place, easy to damage, slow to heal.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit long-time ally Pakistan this week to discuss a port project and roads that link the two countries. China is hoping to extend its influence in region. The sound of gunfire will echo around the capital of Pakistan tomorrow.

For once, it has nothing to do with that country's battle with the Taliban. It will be a gun salute honoring China's president, Xi Jinping. President Xi is arriving in Islamabad for a two-day state visit. It has great significance for the entire region and beyond.

Philip, explain - why does this matter? Well, as you know, China's increasingly reaching out across the world in search of energy supplies. This visit is about pushing ahead with a massive project that links China with a port in Pakistan. It's a gateway to the Middle East, which has much of the world's oil reserves.

And the plan is to create a corridor that runs south-north, right across Pakistan, to the border with western China, up in the Himalayas, with a network of roads and rail links and pipelines. And China is planning to invest tens of billions of dollars into this, and during this visit, President Xi is expected to ink various agreements connected with it. This provides China with a - you know, a direct and far, far shorter route to the oil and gas reserves of the Middle East and also Africa.

And it's also of considerable geopolitical significance for another reason. China's been developing various ports around Asia. And China-watchers call these the string of pearls. They say it's a strategy by China to expand its maritime influence and to straddle key trade routes.

And Gwadar Port is close to the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil travels. The port's actually owned by Pakistan, but it's operated by a state-owned Chinese company and is still under development. So it gives China an important toehold in a very important place. But, Philip, what about the instability in Pakistan? Isn't there a risk that traffic along this corridor to China will be disrupted by violence? Yes, there are plenty of people out there who can cause a lot of problems.

There are nationalists insurgents, there's the Taliban, and there's political volatility. President Xi was planning to come here a few months back, but postponed because the center of Islamabad, the capital, was occupied by thousands of opposition demonstrators. But, you know, this route and its importance gives both China and Pakistan an incentive - an extra incentive - to stabilize Pakistan.

Now, Pakistan is obviously for a vital strategic importance for the United States. Does the rise of China's influence in Pakistan mean less influence for the U. Well, it's not a zero-sum game. The relationship between China and Pakistan is close. It goes back decades. It's far less volatile than Pakistan's relations with the U. And when things go bad with Washington, it is true that the Pakistanis tend to play up their relationship with China to kind of indicate that they have other powerful friends.

But the American relationship is unlikely to be significantly affected by this, and this relationship with China has been going on a very long time. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www. NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future.

Accuracy and availability may vary. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. April 19, 5: Heard on All Things Considered. So is this all about China getting access to larger energy reserves?