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Depletion as a Catalyst for Conflict

February 7, 2012

Tabitha Grace Mallory points out how the depletion of Chinese fisheries can lead to state conflict:

In September 2010, a Chinese fishing vessel clashed with two Japanese coast guard vessels near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.  The scuffle resulted in the apprehension of the Chinese captain by Japanese authorizes, an embargo on rare earth exports…from China to Japan and a cooling in China-Japan relations.  A few months later, another skirmish between Chinese fishing vessels and the South Korean coast guard took place in the Yellow Sea, resulting in the death of three Chinese fishermen. In June 2011, a Chinese fishing boat collided with an exploration cable from a Vietnamese seismic survey vessel, and the incident was followed by Vietnamese protests.  In December 2011, a Chinese fisherman on a vessel operating illegally stabbed two South Korean coast guard officers, killing one and wounding the other.

Some analysts believe these conflicts are part of China’s grand strategy in Asia [as geographic control is disupted]…at the provincial level, however, local officials are concerned primarily with economic performance, for which they are accountable to the central government.  Therefore, fishermen are encouraged to catch as much as possible.  Because fish are scarcer in Chinese coastal waters, the country’s vessels are venturing farther to fish and into waters the central government says they have a right to be in…[bold added]

More here.

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