Acalmar o Mar do Sul da China

CAMBERRA - O Mar do Sul da China - considerado há muito tempo, juntamente com o Estreito de Taiwan e com a Península coreana, como uma das três áreas problemáticas da Ásia Oriental - está a fazer ondas novamente. O anúncio da China do envio de um contingente de tropas para as Ilhas Paracel, a seguir ao mês em que os que reclamam os seus direitos nos limites territoriais intensificaram a sua retórica, a presença naval da China em áreas sob disputa tornou-se mais visível e os chineses dividiram a Associação das Nações do Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN), cujos ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros podem não concordar com um comunicado, pela primeira vez, em 45 anos.

Tudo isto tem os nervos abalados - tal como aconteceu com o posicionamento militar semelhante e com braço de ferro diplomático, entre 2009 e meados de 2011. Não é de admirar: alongando-se de Singapura a Taiwan, o Mar do Sul da China é a segunda via marítima mais movimentada, com um terço do trânsito marítimo mundial a atravessá-la.

Mais estados vizinhos têm mais direito a mais partes do Mar do Sul da China - e tendem a empurrar essas reivindicações com um nacionalismo mais enérgico - do que qualquer outro caso de extensão de água comparável. E agora ele é visto como um importante campo de testes para a rivalidade sino-americana, com a China a estender as suas asas novas e com os Estados Unidos a tentar cortá-las o suficiente, para manter a sua própria primazia regional e mundial.

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