China is bearing down on its claims to the South China Sea where hundreds of billions of barrels of oil are thought to lie under the sea floor. It recently set up an oil rig in disputed territorial waters and is increasing its naval presence in the region, causing the Phillipines and other Southeast Asian countries alarm. The issue is now just a minor irritant to those in the United States who would like to maintain strong economic ties with China . But with tensions in the region rising, it may soon be an issue that the United States will not be able to ignore.
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