China is becoming increasingly confident in its dealings with the rest of the world, flexing its economic clout and heightened military power. Its controversial Nine-dash line attempts to shoulder the neighboring countries of Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines right out of the South China Sea, claiming sovereignty over the area. Its claims to the area are ancient, reaching back all the way to declarations made by the Kuomintang in 1947. The fact that 'Freedom of the Seas' claims were made by the nations of the rest of the world long before that time does not sway them in the least.
More recently, China is claiming air defense zones that conflict with Japanese territorial claims. Conflicts in both areas have resulted in naval confrontations and saber rattling that is making many people nervous.
Now, China is extending its reach by creating a new line, called the 900-Dash Line that encompasses the shorelines of the Koreas, Australia, New Zealand, the islands of the Pacific (including Hawaii), and stretching along the coastlines of North and South America. This line pokes up narrowly through the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska to give China oil rights in the north polar zone.
China's newest claim stems from the purported voyages of discovery and conquest by Admiral Wang Shu, a ninth-century B.C.E. sailor of near-mythical greatness and proportions. The voyages were written down in a book found last year in an ancient tomb and only lately translated into modern Mandarin. Chinese authorities refuse to allow examination of the ancient text, citing the fragility of the source material.