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New York Times: A New Era of Gunboat Diplomacy

Author: Mark Landler
November 12, 2011

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Mark Landler discusses the competition for offshore oil in the South China Sea, among other waters, where countries in a naval arms race rush to secure their share of energy resources.

It may seem strange in an era of cyberwarfare and drone attacks, but the newest front in the rivalry between the United States and China is a tropical sea, where the drive to tap rich offshore oil and gas reserves has set off a conflict akin to the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century.

The Obama administration first waded into the treacherous waters of the South China Sea last year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared, at a tense meeting of Asian countries in Hanoi, that the United States would join Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in resisting Beijing's efforts to dominate the sea. China, predictably, was enraged by what it viewed as American meddling.

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