Three-way fray spells toil and trouble in South China Sea

Malaysia-Vietnam-JDA-South-China-Sea-ATMI-MapMANILA – A new three-way dispute has broken into the open in the South China Sea, one that brings two Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) members into conflict along with China over coveted energy resources.

Malaysia, Vietnam and China have for weeks been locked in a quiet naval standoff in a disputed southwestern area of the sea, marking a new source of acrimony in ASEAN and Beijing’s latest bid to block Southeast Asian claimants from tapping the maritime area’s rich bounty of oil and gas.

Beijing has deployed its so-called “monster” China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels to an area it considers part of its continental shelf. Of the trio involved in the remote sea standoff, China has by far the greater naval firepower.

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