The Economic Link
The strategically placed South China Sea links the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. This major shipping channel extends
from the Taiwan Strait in the North to the Strait of Malacca in the south.
Race For Resources
The South China Sea is rich in minerals including Hydrocarbons. Experts claim it has roughly 11 billion barrels oil and 190 trillion cubic feet natural gas. As per analysts, such reserves are enough to power China for 30 years at current consumption rate.
Hague Ruling ’16
In 2016, International Tribunal at Hague dismissed Beijing’s claim to much of the South China Sea and ruled in favor of Philippines. Beijing disputed the ruling and continued reclamation and militarization of the region. Fear of repercussions ensured that the Philippines did not confront Beijing’s incursion in its territorial waters.
To make the islands habitable, China employed the Salami Slicing Policy of Expansion, which includes minor offenses that cannot be justified as an act of war but cumulatively produce a much more significant action. Through this, China has acquired de
facto control of the area demarcated in its self proclaimed 9 Dash Line.
Law Of The Sea
Under the UN Law, states have the right to 200 nautical miles “exclusive economic zone” to exploit the sea’s resources, as measured from their land territories. It specifies that these land territories must be suitable for human habitation. The Hague ruling decreed that no occupied Islands met the criterion, thus delivering critical blow to China’s claim there.
UN laws allow “innocent passage” to warships in territorial waters. To assert its rights to freedom of navigation, the US, Japan and Australia have conducted freedom of navigation operations in the areas which Beijing claims as part of its EEZs.
- Ownership of Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea.
- Nearly all claimants, especially China, offer flimsy historical evidence which are counteracted by the rival nations.
- Though Taiwan occupies one of the islands in the Sea, its sovereignty issue with the PRC renders the country incapable of being a signatory to the UN Law Of The Sea, and claiming waters.