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Philippines and China- 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.

 

Context:

The Philippines will resume a military resupply mission for the country’s troops stationed on an atoll (Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal) in the South China Sea will resume this week, after it was aborted last week when it was blocked by Chinese coast guard.

  • Philippines was backed by the U.S. State Department, which released a statement calling the Chinese actions an “escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.”

 

Significance of the atoll:

  • A small contingent of the Philippine Marine Corps has occupied the atoll, since its navy deliberately grounded World War II landing vessel BRP Sierra Madre to serve as an outpost in 1999.
  • The island is about 105 nautical miles off Palawan in the West Philippine Sea—Manila’s term for the eastern portion of the South China Sea that falls within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

 

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.

 

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).

malaysia_brunei

 

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

 

InstaLinks:

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.