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South China Sea Dispute:

GS Paper 2: 

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



China has called for an expedition in negotiations with ASEAN countries on a code of conduct framework for the South China Sea.



Next year is the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). China wishes to work with ASEAN countries to mark the occasion with commemorative activities.


About the Declaration:

  • In November 2002, China and the ten ASEAN states signed the non-binding Declaration of the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea.
  • That document saw all eleven parties pledge their commitment to eventually conclude a binding code of conduct.
  • That document noted that “the adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea would further promote peace and stability in the region.”


Overall 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.


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).

current affairs


Insta Curious:

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



Prelims Link:

  1. About the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
  2. Countries involved in the dispute.
  3. What is the nine dash line?
  4. Disputed islands and their locations?
  5. Important straits, passes and seas in the region.
  6. What is UNCLOS?
  7. Locate Taiwan strait and Luzon Strait.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the South China Sea dispute.

Sources: the Hindu.