An Australian think tank has warned that the sea lanes of Asia are becoming “more crowded, contested and vulnerable to armed strife”.
The report, by the Lowry Institute for International Policy, says that the strategies of China , the US and Japan involve expanded maritime patrolling and intrusive surveillance, bringing an “uncertain mix of stabilising and destabilising effects”.
The report states that nationalism and resource needs are reinforcing the value of territorial claims in the East and South China seas, making maritime sovereignty disputes more difficult to manage.
Earlier this month, China confirmed that its first aircraft carrier was under construction in the northeastern port of Dalian and was expected to begin sea trials later this year.
The report cautions that the chance of a major military clash “should not be overstated”, but adds that the drivers, in particular “China’s frictions” with the US, Japan and India , are “likely to persist and intensify”.
One potential flash point, between India and China, concerns possible incidents arising from the international fight against Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean .
In 2009 India and China agreed in principle to establish a leaders-level hotline, which was announced as operational in December 2010.