South China Sea Dispute
The South China Sea is one of the busiest waterways in the world and is an important gateway for trade and merchant shipping. The South China Sea disputes are nothing but maritime and island claims between different sovereign states in the region. Basically, countries located geopolitically in the Indo-Pacific region are part of this dispute such as China, Brunei, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia etc.
China keeps trying to prove its dominance in the area. Lately, on that note, It approved the establishment of two districts to administer the disputed Paracel and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Before that, Beijing had issued new names for 25 islands or reefs and 55 undersea entities in the South China Sea in a bid to reaffirm its sovereignty in the region.
Waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands are also disputed. The reason why these areas are disputed and why countries show so much interest is due to the acquisition of fishing areas around the two archipelagos; suspected crude oil and natural gas in different parts of the South China Sea; and the control of strategically important shipping lanes.
South China Sea Dispute Causes
The maritime disputes in the South China Sea affect regional bilateral relations and the tuning between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). There are various reasons which led to the dispute regarding the South China Sea and its main cause is the claim of different territories over the Sea and territorial demarcation of the sea.
And Sea is obviously a major source of natural resources for the different territories which is the source of about 10 percent of the country’s fishery that is a source of food for hundreds of people. and that’s why countries in the region from are claiming their rights over the sea.
Another reason is the claim of islands and rocks. Countries claim their right over the different islands, which makes it difficult for countries to trade smoothly through this waterway as it may lead to seizing their trading ships. There are exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and mostly in the case of water bodies, these zones overlap for different territories.
The South China Sea Dispute has adversely affected the territories involved in the dispute but along with them, other countries involved in trade with them are affected. It is one of the most critical trade routes and it is crucial to end the dispute over the South China Sea so that the trade and economic activities of the country are not disrupted.
Also, the US is playing a very important role in mending the dispute because it has wide-ranging security commitments in East Asia and is allied with several of the countries bordering the South China Sea, such as the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. So any dispute among them will directly affect the US.