Why is the US helping China look for oil in the South China Sea?

From Quartz

By Adam Pasick

Political tensions in the South China Sea have seldom been higher, with China’s  “marine identification zone” deemed a provocative threat to peace by neighboring countries and the United States. The vast area, variously claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other southeast Asian countries, is hotly contested in part because it is thought to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

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It’s easy, then, to foresee some sticky scenarios emerging from an unusual joint research trip set to embark this week. Thirty-one geologists from 10 countries—including 13 from China and nine from the United States—will spend two months drilling rock samples in the South China Sea. The trip is funded mostly by China, but will take place on a US-operated drilling vessel, the JOIDES Resolution, under the auspices of the International Ocean Discovery Program.

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