Taiwan: Chronicle of a Crisis Postponed

I The South China Sea, fabled and contested, stretches from the Taiwan Strait south to the Java Sea and the Singapore Strait, where the Horsburgh lighthouse, an active relic of Asia’s violent encounter with Europe, now keeps watch over the world’s most crucial chokepoint. North of Singapore, the sea is bounded to the east by the island of Borneo, to the west by the Malay peninsula. As each of these land formations slopes away, the sea opens to a wide expanse. Wide, but frequently shallow, and dotted with cays, atolls, reefs, sand bars, and small island formations. For the vast commercial ships that transit this shipping lane, they must hew closely to well-charted but narrow routes where the sea lane is deep enough to accommodate their giant hulls. If you viewed the South China Sea simultaneously through satellite, radar, and sonar images, you would see a sea clogged with obstacles.

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