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ASEAN states warn of U.S. China Sea tensions

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

ASEAN states warn of U.S. China Sea tensions

What’s the issue?

China has been pushing its presence in the Exclusive Economic Zones of other countries while claimants are preoccupied tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the United States to call on China to stop its “bullying behaviour” there.

  • In April, Beijing unilaterally declared the creation of new administrative districts on islands in the troubled waterways to which Vietnam and the Philippines also have competing claims.
  • In early April, Vietnam said one of its fishing boats was sunk by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel.
  • In January, Chinese boat trespassed into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zoneoff the coast of the northern islands of Natuna.

Because of these incidents, Vietnam and the Philippines have warned of growing insecurity in Southeast Asia.

Besides, the oft mentioned Nine-Dash line that China uses as a basis for its claims in the waters is once again at odds with Indonesia’s claim that the line lacks an international legal basis.

Main Concern now:

One of the fundamental principles of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been to resolve regional disputes by peaceful means. But over the years, the position of ASEAN on the South China Sea disputes has weakened its image internationally and failing to resolve this issue would lead to questions being raised about its credibility as an effective regional organization.

About the dispute:

It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries.

Alongside the fully fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.

Who Claims What?

  1. China:

claims by far the largest portion of territory – an area defined by the “nine-dash line” which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.

  1. Vietnam:

hotly disputes China’s historical account, saying China had never claimed sovereignty over the islands before the 1940s. Vietnam says it has actively ruled over both the Paracels and the Spratlys since the 17th Century – and has the documents to prove it.

  1. Philippines:

both the Philippines and China lay claim to the Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China) – a little more than 100 miles (160km) from the Philippines and 500 miles from China.

  1. Malaysia and Brunei:

They lay claim to territory in the South China Sea that they say falls within their economic exclusion zones, as defined by UNCLOS – the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Brunei does not claim any of the disputed islands, but Malaysia claims a small number of islands in the Spratlys

malaysia_brunei

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Countries involved in the dispute.
  2. What is nine dash line?
  3. Disputed islands and their locations?
  4. Important straits, passes and seas in the region.
  5. What is UNCLOS?
  6. Locate Taiwan strait and Luzon Strait.

Mains Link:

Write a note on South China Sea dispute.

Sources: the Hindu.