Everyone wants a piece of the South China Sea, a strategically important and resource-rich area in Asia. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia claim some sort of ownership in a different shape or form.
The US Energy Information Agency reckons there could be around 11bn barrels of oil and 190tn cubic feet of natural gas there and that is not even the entire area. The Chinese National Offshore Oil Company puts the number at 125bn barrels of oil and 500tn cubic feet in undiscovered resources.
China said it was ''strongly dissatisfied'' after a U.S. spy plane flew over part of the South China Sea this week near where China is building artificial islands, and called on the United States to stop such action or risk causing an accident. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Chinese military drove away the aircraft, in accordance with relevant regulations. He labelled the U.S. action a security threat to China's islands and reefs.
Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, said the Poseidon had not gone within 12-mile (19-km) territorial limits that China claims around the artificial islands but said this could happen in the future. "We don't recognize those islands as anything other than international space."