Australia and China possess profoundly different geographies, but in one key way, they are similar: The bulk of the wealth and populations of both countries is concentrated on eastern-facing coasts. These coasts, in turn, face seas containing small islands that, if held by a hostile power, could be used to block Chinese or Australian ships from entering the greater Pacific and engaging in global trade – in effect, crippling their economies. China, of course, is facing the South and East China seas. Australia is next to the less-discussed Coral Sea (the Tasman Sea being virtually secure already). China’s imperative to solidify its grip over the South and East China seas is mirrored by Australia’s recent push to solidify its control over the Coral Sea. The difference is how each goes about doing it.
China’s militarization of the South China Sea in recent years has been well publicized, but there is nothing recent about Chinese territorial claims in the South and East China sea