Recently America and Australia have rejected most of china’s claim over the South China Sea as well are its territorial claims over certain islands. So what is this dispute about? The South China Sea is a marginal sea from Karinata and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan. The sea is the south of China, east of Vietnam, the west of the Philippines and the east of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra up to the Strait of Singapore. One-third of the world’s shipping passes through it. About 5.3 trillion worth of goods pass through the South China Sea. 1.2 trillion Of trade is with the US.
Because the sea is surrounded by various countries, the various parts of the sea are also claimed by different countries.But China claims most parts of the sea and Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have contested the Chinese claim.All the claims of all the countries overlap at some point; all these claims are mostly geological claims and historical claim. China claims 80 per cent of the sea and Taiwan claims the islands of Paracel and Spratly. The Philippines claims the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal comes under Philippine sovereignty Brunei and Malaysia claimed the southern parts of the sea was under their sovereignty. Vietnam in 2009 began reclaiming the 48 islands they had occupied from before. In retaliation, China reclaimed larger portions of the sea it had occupied since the 1980s. China formed the nine-dash line which extends 2000 km from the Chinese mainland. This line almost touches the Indonesian and Malaysian international waters. In July 2016, an arbitration tribunal was formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in Hague. The tribunal ruled against china’s claims over the South China Sea, the case was brought by the Philippines. The People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China; the countries also did not recognize the tribunal. Disregarded the judgment of the tribunal and dismissed the judgment saying that this matter should be solved by negotiating with other claimants.
According to the international laws and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, every nation in the South China Sea have the right to claim 200 nautical miles of the sea as an exclusive economic zone where they can mine for oil or minerals or exploit the sea and sea bed. When the boundaries overlap usually countries negotiate to agree. But this hasn’t happened in the South China Sea. All countries have historical claim over the sea. China claims most of the sea due to ancient claims of trade, Japan occupied islands of the South China Sea, and the country later recognized Taiwan thus giving Taiwan historical claim over the land. Also, the nine-dash line is not recognized by international law. Taiwan isn’t recognized as a sovereign state, the country isn’t a signatory to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. In international law, for a country to claim part of the sea, the island must be habitable for humans, there was no such island found on Spratly islands.
This sea is important as it houses one-third of the world’s sea trade and the sea is also a huge source of oils and natural gas. The sea also has 80 per cent of China’s sea trade. The situation hasn’t evolved and there is no resolution as no two countries are open to bilateral negotiations as of now.