Fighting for Land

The disputes over the South China Sea are continuing with US ships entering contested waters, and China now landing test flights on newly developed island runways.

But the South China Sea is not the only place world powers are jockeying for land. Both in the Arctic and Antarctic, countries are competing for access and legal claim.

Most shipwrecks from over 100 years ago not only don’t matter, but also are mostly forgotten about. But suddenly some of these wrecks could have not just local but global significance. Why? Because they’re on the Arctic seabed, and can help all sorts of countries, like Russia, Norway, and Canada, to stake claims on this increasingly valuable part of the world. Could shipwrecks lead to great power war?

In more mundane and more hospitable places, nations are also doing all they can to maximise their resources, for example by expanding “exclusive economic zones” around tiny colonial islands, owned mostly still by France, the UK, and the US. These fights may be less headline-grabbing than those in Ukraine or the South China Sea, but are worth paying attention to even so.

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