What exactly is the south china sea dispute?
The south china sea disputes involve both island and maritime claims among several sovereign states within the south china sea region. These states include
The nation of Brunei
The People’s Republic of China(PRC),
The Republic of China (Taiwan) (ROC),
The Republic of the Philippines
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Why is there a dispute?
The disputes include the islands, reefs, banks, and other features of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and various boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin. There are further disputes, including the waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands, which many do not regard as part of the South China Sea. Claimant states are interested in retaining or acquiring the rights to fishing areas, the exploration and potential exploitation of crude oil and natural gas in the seabed of various parts of the South China Sea, and the strategic control of important shipping lanes.
These islands are in the 200 Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of neighbouring smaller nations – the Philippines, Vietnam among others. China has illegally seized this area under the false premise of defence purposes but in reality, is violating international law for the rich natural resources of the region. It cannot unilaterally impose its 9 dash line (no valid historical or legal basis). Only by the intervention of US with the consent of its allies in the region is helping enforce rule of law.
An estimated US$5 trillion worth of global trade passes through the South China Sea, there are many non-claimant states that want the South China Sea to remain as international waters. Several states (e.g. the United States of America) are conducting “freedom of navigation” operations to promote this situation.
In July 2016, an arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled against the PRC’s maritime claims in the Philippines v. China, although it is not enforceable. The PRC neither acknowledges the tribunal nor abides by its ruling, insisting that any resolution of the matter should be made through bilateral negotiations with other claimants.
Let’s see what might happen if this continues and conflict arises.