Territorial disputes, dataviz, and unity

For years now South East Asia and her surrounding areas have been a hotbed of territorial dispute activity. Seeing this visualization gave me I think a better perspective on it. Some things I noticed right away:

  • China has surprisingly little offshore territory within it’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
  • Even Malaysia doesn’t have a great deal. Indonesia lops off the entire swathe of the South China Sea in between Peninsula Malaysia and East Malaysia. Looking at this map it’s perhaps a bit easier to understand why Indonesia was so suspicious of the formation of Malaysia in the first place. If Indonesia-Malaysia relations ever went seriously sour, Malaysia has no maritime route between her two halves, at least not without the good graces of Vietnam.
  • Have a look to the area just north of Taiwan and you’ll see a region labelled “Joint Regime” which is shared by Japan and South Korea.
  • Holy cow Denmark there’s more to you than I realised.

I’m not sure what precisely a “Joint Regime” is in the context of an EEZ, but it leads to the obvious question of whether ASEAN can use such an instrument to gain leverage in their territorial disputes with China. Of course a pre-requisite to that would be unity within ASEAN, which will be quite an achievement in the first place.

Edit: And now this just in: “China plans artificial island in disputed Spratlys chain in South China Sea“:

“China is looking to expand its biggest installation in the Spratly Islands into a fully formed artificial island, complete with airstrip and sea port, to better project its military strength in the South China Sea, a Chinese scholar and a Chinese navy expert have said.”

The volume just keeps getting turned up.

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