Pursuing An Economic Security Agenda: Offensive Realism And China In The South China Sea Dispute

2199 words - 9 pages

This South China Sea dispute has been described as “mother of all territorial disputes” (Baviera 2004: 505). In the post cold-war era, it is ex
Background to the South China Sea Dispute.

For centuries, countries have quarrelled over territory in the South China Sea, but the area has recently seen resurgence in tensions. This upsurge has caused international concern that the area is becoming a tinderbox with potential global consequences. The argument is regarding territory and sovereignty over oceanic areas and two island chains that are claimed in part or in whole by numerous countries, the Spratleys and the Paracels. Along with these islands, there are many uninhabited sandbanks, ...view middle of the document...

There are also territorial claims by Malaysia and Brunei to areas that exist within their economic exclusion zones as outlined by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Malaysia claims a small amount of islands in the Spratlys, and Brunei’s claims do not include any of the disputed islands.

The Spratly and Paracel islands allegedly contain reserves of natural resources (oil and gas) surrounding them, although there has been little detailed exploration in this area. Assumptions are derived from neighbouring areas that are rich in mineral resources. The South China Sea is also a key-shipping route used by regional and international nations, as well as the sea suppling the livelihoods of many in the region from the abounding fish stocks.

Troubles caused by the disputes

In recent decades, the most serious issues have occurred between Vietnam and China. China annexed the Parasols in 1974 from Vietnam, killing in excess of 70 Vietnamese soldiers. The countries clashed again in the Spratlys 1988, where Vietnam lost 60 sailors, coming off worse again. The Philippines has also participated in numerous minor clashes with China, Vietnam and Malaysian armed forces. The recent resurgence in tensions has been simultaneous with a more enthusiastic bravado from China.

China has been accused by the Philippines of increasing its military presence in the Spratlys. Earlier in 2012, the two nations participated in a prolonged maritime altercation after accusing the other country of intruding in the Scarborough Shoal.

In July of 2012 China “formally created Sansha city, an administrative body its headquarters in the Paracels which says it oversees Chinese territory in the South China Sea – including the Paracels and the Spratlys” . Vietnam and the Philippines have protested against this move. In 2012, unconfirmed reports that China’s navy intentionally disrupted two Vietnamese exploration operations instigated large-scale anti-China protests in Vietnam. Among other nations Vietnam refused to stamp new Chinese passports that included a map showing the disputed territories as Chinese territory.

In 2013, the Philippines was vocal about taking China to a United Nations Arbitration Tribunal, citing the UNCLOS to contest China’s claims.

In May 2014, China introduced an Oil Drilling rig into the sea close to the Paracel Islands, which has lead to tensions escalating. Multiple skirmishes have occurred between Vietnamese and Chinese ships, fiery protests are happening in Vietnam, which have involved the burning of Chinese factories.

In order to solve disputes China has favoured bilateral agreements and negotiations, which are not in the public realm. However, other countries are calling for international arbitration. Moreover, if the Philippines pursues China at a UN tribunal and succeeds – China would not be obliged to act in accordance with the ruling. Attempts but ASEAN regional bloc to converse over ideas to resolve the dispute have left...

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