Mines in the South China Sea

“Taking Mines Seriously: Mine Warfare in China’s Near Seas”
Scott C. Truver
U.S. Naval War College Review
Spring 2012

Strategists focus heavily on the aerospace aspects of China’s “access denial” strategy, thinking about how ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and attack aircraft could effectively seal the US Navy out of the Western Pacific. But another weapon remains that could have a similar effect in a much lower intensity conflict: sea mines.

Drop a few dozen cheap and low-technology magnetic mines around the Paracels or Spratleys, sit back, and watch the fireworks. It is an illustration that China has plenty of arrows in its quiver that could prove costly for Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and the U.S. to address, one that demands an equally asymmetric strategy.

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