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The Malaysian Airlines tragedy and South China Sea geopolitics

imagesSome initial thoughts on how the ongoing South China Sea dispute is and isn’t being considered in media coverage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearance…

While the apparent crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is first and foremost a human tragedy, we should not lose sight of how search and rescue efforts are being played out within the context of a geopolitical drama.

Some news reports have noted that the South China Sea, where search and rescue efforts have been concentrated, is a zone of competing territorial claims and ongoing diplomatic tensions. However, usually these tensions are reported as being transcended by the international effort to find the wreck and (hopefully) any survivors.

One of the more extensive discussions of the geopolitical context occurred in The Guardian:

Fears over the fate of missing passengers have Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Philippines maritime authorities working together to scour the area of the South China Sea where the plane went missing. That’s notable, given that decades-long tension over maritime borders in the area are increasingly coming to…

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