Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015

South China Sea trade routes safe despite rows

Published on Jun 15, 2014 12:06 PM
This picture taken on June 2, 2014 shows a Chinese Coast Guard ship (right) using a water cannon to attack a Vietnamese Fisheries Surveillance boat near to the site of the Chinese oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea off Vietnam's central coast. -- PHOTO: AFP 

MANILA (AFP) - Despite territorial stand-offs between China and other nations bordering the South China Sea, analysts say governments know better than to choke off the trade shipping routes that are the lifeblood of their economies.

The escalating disputes this year between China and some of its neighbours over their rival territorial claims in the sea have led to water cannons being fired in one hotspot area and deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.

The Philippines has also sought military help from the United States in the face of what it calls "bullying" Chinese tactics, signing a pact that will soon allow thousands of US troops onto Filipino bases facing the sea.

The worsening rows have inevitably raised questions over whether they will impact the sea's shipping lanes, which are among the busiest in the world and see more than half of all oil tanker trade flow through them.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!