South China Sea Territorial Disputes

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China Communist Party has been accused of exploiting the world’s focus on the COVID-19 crisis by continuing its proactive behavior and unilaterally renaming 80 islands and other geographical features in the area.The disputes include the islands, reefs, banks, and other features of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Scarborough Shoal, and various boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin.

South China Sea Dispute
Image source: upfrontpolitics.com

About The South China Sea Territorial Disputes

China, Taiwan, the Philippines,Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims over the disputed territory.

China has been exploiting the world’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic and has been busy increasing its presence in the South China sea. 

This time the main focus are the two disputed archipelagos of the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands between the territory of Vietnam and Philippines.

  • Spratly Islands- It is a group of islands in the South China Sea and various nations such as China, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia are engaged in territorial disputes over the ownership of the Spratly Islands archipelago.
  • Paracel Islands- It is a group of 130 islands and coral reefs located in the South China Sea and is almost equidistant from China and Vietnam and both countries claim the islands to be part of their territory.

Significance of Islands

  • Although the two disputed archipelagos are uninhabited, they may have large reserves of untapped natural resources.
  • The South China Sea is also a major shipping route and fishing grounds which is a source of livelihood for people across the region.
  • In the 1970s, oil was discovered in the neighbouring islands, specifically off the coast of Palawa. This further extended efforts of the countries for territorial claims.

Why South China Sea Was In the News Again?

  • China has recently renamed 80 islands, reefs and other geographical features of the two disputed archipelagos of the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands.
  • China has built two research stations on the territory claimed by the philippines.
  • In the past few years, China has been emerging as an active player in the disputed territory by the use of its military and has created artificial islands for military and economic purposes.

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