6 charts that show why the tit for tat over crumbs in the South China Sea isn't for nothing

China navyGuang Niu/GettyChinese navy soldiers guard on Navy Battleship of Wenzhou at Qingdao Port on April 22, 2009 in Qingdao of Shandong Province, China.

As of last week, China deployedsurface-to-air missileson one of the most central swathes of land in the disputed waters.

According to author and the chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, Robert D. Kaplan, “the South China Sea functions as the throat of the Western Pacific and Indian oceans — the mass of connective economic tissue where global sea routes coalesce.”

“More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through these choke points, and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide,” Kaplan wrote in “Asia’s Cauldron: The

South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.”

Territorial claims from Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China make the South China Sea one of the most disputed territories on the planet.

Meanwhile, China claims the majority of the contested region, which is home to $5 trillion in annual global trade.

To that end, by 2030, the entire region is predicted to be nothing more than a “Chinese lake.”

Business Insider has selected six charts that explain why the South China Sea is so valuable.

Here's a look at the region and the disputed areas. The primary issue at the heart of the South China Sea dispute is the overlapping of several 'Exclusive Economic Zones' of each country.

China claims the lions share of the South China Sea with its self proclaimed 'nine dash line' shown below in red.

Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

Mega money passes through these waters. The South China Sea is home to $5 trillion in annual global trade. The sea also function as the main trade route for unfinished goods between ASEAN (Southeast Asia), Japan, and China.

'The South China Sea has proven oil reserves of seven billion barrels and an estimated 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas ... If Chinese calculations are correct, then these waters could contain more oil than any area of the globe except Saudi Arabia. Some have called the South China Sea 'the second Persian Gulf.'

Here's a look at the US assets and personnel deployed in Hawaii, Alaska, and Guam, devoted to the safety and security of the region.

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Several countries have also constructed aircraft capabilities in the region, but China has the most and the longest airstrips.

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