China’s claims to a sea that is contested by five other Asian governments will be sharpened after repeated discoveries of an obscure, offshore natural gas known as flammable ice.
During a mission that commenced in February this year, the country extracted 861,400 cubic meters of flammable ice, a natural gas hydrate, for a daily average of 28,700 cubic meters. The new discoveries give China a new cause to use the sea, despite protests from other nations.
Ensuring an energy supply for its 1.4 billion population, China would gain an even more solid control in the sea if it started licensing flammable gas extraction technology to other countries and also collaborating with them for the extraction of the natural gas, say scholars.
It is to be noted that the 3.5 million-square-kilometre sea has claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam on all or parts of it.