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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

South China Sea Security Issues

A long article at OhmyNews International.
From the Taiwan Strait to the Strait of Malacca, security concerns are growing around the South China Sea. While the Bush Administration sees a resurgent Chinese military threat across the Taiwan Strait and a terrorist threat in the Strait of Malacca, many countries between the Straits are more concerned about security for their maritime resources from the threats of competitors, traffickers, poachers, and pirates...
The large volume of shipping in the South China Sea/Strait of Malacca littoral has created opportunities for attacks on merchant shipping. Piracy can threaten a disaster through a collision, grounding, chemical or toxic spill or closing of a strait. Since the 1990's, around half of the world's reported piracy took place in the South China Sea. The big increase in piracy in Indonesian waters and ports may be attributed to its economic crisis and domestic instability. It may also result from more sophisticated attacks by organized crime groups.

The response of coastal countries was delayed by uncertainties over legal jurisdiction, disputed sovereignty, and uncoordinated efforts at recovery of crew, cargo, or ships. Even when pirates were detected, "hot pursuit" across national boundaries was seldom attempted. Sensitive to sovereignty issues in their territorial and EEZ waters, coastal countries have slowly started multilateral programs to monitor piracy attacks and bilateral exercises to coordinate anti-piracy patrols. The International Piracy Control Center in Kuala Lumpur, and the International Maritime Organization's Piracy Reporting Centre in London have stepped up monitoring efforts. The ASEAN Regional Forum convened a meeting of maritime specialists to coordinate coast guard action, information exchange, and investigation of piracy reports.

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