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Analyzing the importance of South China Sea and Regional Disputes

The security issues around it always remain a focus of international attention. The SCS hosts numerous islands, rocks, and reefs as a semi-enclosed area. The sea is believed to have rich reserves of oil, natural gas and fishery stocks. It provides sea routes for maritime shipping and naval mobility. One-third of the world’s shipping passes through it, carrying over US$5 trillion in trade each year

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The South China Sea (SCS) is a semi-enclosed area attached by China and Taiwan in the north, the Philippines in the east, Brunei and Malaysia in the south, and Vietnam in the west. The sea is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing about 1.4 million square miles from the Karimata and Malacca Straits to the Taiwan Strait. The SCS dispute is commonly described as one of the three flashpoints – the other two being the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait – in East Asia for a potential conflict of national interests and a threat to international peace and security.

The security issues around it always remain a focus of international attention

The SCS hosts numerous islands, rocks, and reefs as a semi-enclosed area. The central island and reef formations in the SCS are the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Pratas, the Natuna Islands and the Scarborough Shoal.

The sea is believed to have rich reserves of oil, natural gas and fishery stocks. It provides sea routes for maritime shipping and naval mobility. One-third of the world’s shipping passes through it, carrying over US$5 trillion in trade each year. The fishery resources are particularly crucial for the food security of millions in Southeast Asia. The strategic location and the abundance of resources make the sea an essential agenda for diplomatic overtures among the coastal states and a subject of interest and concern for the International community.

Read more: Japan China ‘toe to toe’ in South China Sea

The SCS issues involve both island and maritime claims among independent countries

and the dispute has long been a point of discussion in international politics. It involves the countries in dispute and other major powers, including the United States (US). The important strategic location and the largely untapped abundant resources make the SCS a target of contention among the claimant states. The arbitral ruling in July 2016 gave new momentum to the dispute.

Read more: French submarine patrols South China Sea, likely angering Beijing

The underlying problem is the claim of overlapping areas by various countries, involving China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan. They all claim that they own the islands or islets, reefs and resources, so it is difficult to imagine how this protracted conflict will be amicably resolved. The disputes between China, Vietnam, and China and the Philippines have been particularly tense in recent years. SCS has got great attention from the world due to the tussle between China and US in the region.

 

The writer is a Visiting Lecturer at Department of International Relations, Government College University Faisalabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at Aamirjunaid798@gmail.com. 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.