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(Blog) How the South China Sea could help Beijing level the nuclear playing field

2015-05-15 15:14:32       source:Washington Post

By Will Englund

May 14, 2015

"The dispute over the South China Sea is about fish, oil, gas, freedom of navigation and, to a very large extent, assertions of national pride. But there could be another element as well, one that makes the sea especially crucial to China and has nothing to do with the rival claimants.

Here on Hainan Island, on the northern edge of the sea, China bases its nuclear submarines, including the four equipped to launch ballistic missiles. China's problem is that it is hemmed in. Its coastline consists of the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea -- which means its only access to the Pacific and beyond is through relatively narrow straits bordered by Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia."

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