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US counters China’s sea claims

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

US counters China’s sea claims:


Context:

In the backdrop of China’s growing assertiveness in the hotly contested waters, the US has said that Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea have “no basis in international law”.

 

What’s the issue?

Beijing has overlapping territorial claims with several Southeast Asian states in the South China Sea.

  • China claims almost all of the resource-rich sea, through which trillions of dollars in shipping trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  • Beijing has also been accused of deploying a range of military hardware, including anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles there, and ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the waters to be without basis.

 

Recent incidents:

  • Hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Chinese military aircraft appeared off Malaysia’s coast.

 

US – China relations:

The U.S.-China relationship has deteriorated over a range of issues from cybersecurity and tech supremacy to human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The US sees China as the pre-eminent challenge.

 

Where is the South China Sea?

  • The South China Sea is an arm of western Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia.
  • It is south of China, east & south of Vietnam, west of the Philippines and north of the island of Borneo.
  • It is connected by Taiwan Strait with the East China Sea and by Luzon Strait with the Philippine Sea.
  • Bordering states & territories: the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

 

Strategic Importance:

  • This sea holds tremendous strategic importance for its location as it is the connecting link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean (Strait of Malacca).
  • According to the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD) one-third of the global shipping passes through it, carrying trillions of trade which makes it a significant geopolitical water body.

 

Contesting Claims Over Islands:

  • The Paracel Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  • The Spratly Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Philippines.
  • The Scarborough Shoal is claimed by the Philippines, China and Taiwan.

Since 2010, China has been converting uninhabited islets into artificial islets to bring it under UNCLOS (For example, Haven Reef, Johnson South Reef and Fiery Cross Reef).

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the yellow sea is one of four seas named after common colour terms? Which are the other seas? Reference: 

Do you know the meaning of the phrase ‘The Seven Seas’? Read Here

Have you given a thought about how seas are names and their associated problems? Read Briefly

 

InstaLinks:

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.