By Shubham Yadav
The South China Sea is a global flashpoint, with many parties directly and indirectly involved, the dispute is far from over. Earlier it might have been a dispute of territorial and water regions but now it stands symbolic to global domination, hence no one wishes to step back. Every move, stand, and strategy now have serious implications. The South China Sea is part of the pacific ocean, encompassing an area of about 35,00,000 square kilometers positioned below the South East Asian region; this sea falls as EEZ if undisputed for many nations and has the potential to boost economic conditions.
- WHY SO IMPORTANT Approximately 3.37 trillion U.S. dollar trade passes from this region, if china establishes its complete dominance over this region it potential can affect the global trade system and ultimately the global economy. Also, this region has a vast amount of natural resources such as petroleum and a huge amount of fish catch.
Another reason for its significance is that any biased resolve of this dispute will destabilize the complete South East Asia which will not only impact the Trade sector but also travel, space, and sea exploration.
- History of this region
History of this region remains dubious because of different claims by different nations and the attached evidence because the evidence tells a tale entirely contradicting claims of other nations. Some notable ones are Japan claim that during world war when Japan used these islands as bases these were completely out of occupation. Japan after World War II abandoned these Islands thereafter starting turmoil among the regional parties with claims. China due to its power stature is now in possession of these islands.
- Parties Involved & Claims
- China is the most prominent party involved in this dispute it claims complete control over the Island groups and entire sea region. China issued a map in 1947 detailing its claim, but its claims fall flat as there were no coordinates assigned to its claim.
- Vietnam has its claims settled over 75% of the island region especially Spratly and Paracels Island with evidence of active ruling in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Vietnam was involved in two physical clashes in 1974 and 1988 with China over this territory and suffered major losses of life and prestige.
- The Philippines is another major claimant in the area. It invokes its proximity to the Spratly Islands as the main basis of its claim for part of the grouping.
- Malaysia and Brunei claim territory that they say is within their EEZ (economic exclusion zones), as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- Brunei does not claim any area on the disputed islands.
- Malaysia claims some islands in the Spratlys.
- America is not a direct party in this dispute but as it has assumed the role of guardian of the world and for its vested interest in the free flow of trade it emerges as biggest opposition to China.
India too isn’t a direct party but it has reasons to act seriously in this matter
1. 55% of International Indian trade (Goods and Services) passes through the Strait of Malacca. Free navigation will be objected as soon as this territory is in complete control of China.
2. To rise as an International superpower India to wants to weigh in International matters of Global concern, being a regional power South China sea is the biggest opportunity for India.
3. Policies of china have always been Anti-Indian such as their stands on Kashmir, CAA, and Indian entry in G8.
4. India has vested interest in Vietnam as India is responsible for petroleum extraction and if Vietnam fails to settle its claim India will lose a chunk of its benefits.
America in wake of its scheme to pressurize China on every front keeps increasing its presence in the South China Sea on the name of free navigation.
Recently America placed the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz Aircraft carriers in South China. This move is likely to be consequential and we are yet to grasp of its aftermaths
This world is not going to see an end to this conflict real soon as this war is now not only of Territory, it most certainly is a conflict of prestige and ego.