Maritime conflict will diminish once demand for oil, gas is gone

Much has been written about the South China Sea spat ("More knowns and unknowns in the South China Sea debate" by Dr Chang Wen Lam; Forum Online, Wednesday, and "Known unknowns of politics in the South China Sea"; June 27).

Many United States strategists might be dreaming of having a united "Asian Nato" to counterbalance China's growing power in East Asia. But China today is not like the Soviet Bear during the Cold War era. The situation cannot be solved by rerunning the Cold War strategy in Asia.

Diplomacy is good, but Washington has to face the reality that hegemonic claims over the isles in the South China Sea and East China Sea by contending countries are due to the hope of striking black gold and natural gas.

Once the oil and gas equation is gone, resulting in the fossil oil and gas industry becoming a sunset industry, we can expect to see a decline in conflicting claims and interest in the area.

The United Nations has set up a US$10 billion (S$13.7 billion) UN Green Climate Fund, and I hope it will take the lead to find new and clean energy sources - not only for the sake of peace in East Asia but also world peace.

The UN mission should not be limited to research in solar, wind, current, and hydrogen power. It should also undertake research into extracting geothermal power, tapping lightning and transferring power from outer space.

Mankind will benefit when scientists make breakthroughs in their research, making fossil oil, coal, gas and potable water no longer worthy to be reasons for conflicts among countries in the future.

Replacing fossil oil and gas as energy sources will be more effective than relying on the art of international diplomacy to lessen tensions in the region.

Tan Kok Tim