The Arab Spring and South China Sea Tensions: Analyzing China's Drive to Energy Security

Henelito A. Sevilla
2.510 737


The Arab Spring has brought significant changes to the political landscape in many Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries since early 2011. It has also affected the geo strategic and economic interests of powerful emerging Asian states, especially China and other net-energy consuming countries. One immediate result of the Arab Spring is its highly disrupted impact (a ' Black Swan') on the production and supply of crude oil to the economies in Asia due to their high degree of reliance on hydrocarbon from the Middle East. Chinese reactions to Arab Spring have fed tensions between itself and the countries with which it shares the South China Sea, most importantly the Philippines and Vietnam. This paper demonstrates that the black swan effect of the Arab Spring is manifested in the renewal of a geo-strategic competition in the South China Sea as China is re-asserting its historical claims over the control of the area and of its possible hydrocarbon reserves.


Arab Spring, South China Sea, energy security, Middle East and North African (MENA) region, disputed territories

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