South China Sea Dispute – Explained

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South China Sea Dispute

The South China Sea is considered to be one of the busiest waterways in the world and is a significant gateway for trade and merchant shipping. The South China Sea disputes are maritime and island claims between different sovereign states in the region. The countries party to these disputes are China, Brunei, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The South China Sea is considered to be one of the busiest waterways in the world and is a significant gateway for trade and merchant shipping. The South China Sea disputes are maritime and island claims between different sovereign states in the region. The countries party to these disputes are China, Brunei, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Trade Routes in South and South-East Asia

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United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is considered the “constitution of the oceans”. It is also known as the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty.

Law of the Sea divides marine areas into five main zones namely- Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the High Seas.

Unclos

UNCLOS is the only international convention which stipulates a framework for state jurisdiction in maritime spaces. It provides a different legal status to different maritime zones.

As per UNCLOS, There would be overlapping claims as under :

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But Contrary to it, China’s claim most of the south China as under :

South-china-Sea-1

Major Disputes in South China sea are

(1) Spratly Islands b/w  China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

(2) Paracel Islands  b/w  China, Taiwan and Vietnam

South-China-Sea-Disputes-and-Claims

What is the Spratly Islands dispute about?

The ongoing territorial dispute is between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia concerning the ownership of the Spratly Islands archipelago and nearby geographical features like corals reefs, cays etc.

Brunei has contained its objections to the use of its maritime waters for commercial fishing.

The islands may have large reserves of untapped natural resources including oil.

What is the Spratly Islands dispute about?

The ongoing territorial dispute is between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia concerning the ownership of the Spratly Islands archipelago and nearby geographical features like corals reefs, cays etc.

Brunei has contained its objections to the use of its maritime waters for commercial fishing.

The islands may have large reserves of untapped natural resources including oil.

Timeline

1994 – The Convention on the Law of the Sea went into effect. The United States called this treaty the “Law of the Sea Convention.”

1997 – Beijing shared the first rendering of its “Nine-dash Line” extending roughly 1,118 miles from Hainan Island to waters off equatorial Borneo under China’s historical claim of having it in the past.

2002 – ASEAN and China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

2009 – China issued two diplomatic notes that appear to claim a majority of the South China Sea.

2013 – The Philippines challenged China’s claims of historic rights and other actions in an arbitration case under the Law of the Sea Convention.

2016 – The Arbitration Tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s maritime claims that go beyond the entitlements set out in the Convention.

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Kra Canal (Thailand)    : Proposed

Strait of Malacca : The Strait of Malacca is the shortest shipping route between the Far East and the Indian Ocean. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are the littoral states of the Malacca Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Indonesia controls the majority of the sea lane.

Sunda Strait : Sunda Strait is the strait between the Java and Sumatra (Indonesia)

Lokbok Strait: Indonesia

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