Is America's next war going to be in the Pacific? This new map suggests it will — and highlights the locations where it's most likely to break out.
As U.S. foreign policy increasingly pivots toward the Pacific, Washington finds itself potentially mired in escalating territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
This interactive map (click the link to see the full interactive version) is part of a comprehensive, multimedia overview of China's maritime disputes, posted on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations:
Six countries lay overlapping claims to the East and South China Seas, an area that is rich in hydrocarbons and natural gas and through which trillions of dollars of global trade flow. As it seeks to expand its maritime presence, China has been met by growing assertiveness from regional claimants like Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The increasingly frequent standoffs span from the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, on China's eastern flank, to the long stretch of archipelagos in the South China Sea that comprise hundreds of islets. If not managed wisely, Asia's thriving trade channels could become arenas of conflict.
As China's economic ascent facilitates growing military capabilities and assertiveness in both seas, other regional players are also experiencing their own rise in nationalism and military capability, and have exhibited greater willingness to stake territorial claims.
If confrontation were to involve Japan in the East China Sea or the Philippines in the South China Sea, the United States would be obligated to consider military action under defense treaties.
An interactive version of this map—as well as videos, timelines, infographics and links to various policy papers outlining options for the U.S.—can be found on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations.