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The Disputed South China Sea Islands

The Disputed South China Sea Islands

The South China Sea disputes involve both many island and maritime border claims among several sovereign states bordering the sea, namely the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace State on the Island of Borneo, the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China/Taiwan (ROC), Malaysia, The Republic of Indonesia, The Philippine Republic, and The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. There is an estimated five US$ trillion worth of global trade that passes through the South China Sea each year. For this reason there are many non-claimant states that want the South China Sea to remain safe and free international waters. Several states such as the United States, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan and UK are conducting many operations to highlight this fact.

The disputes include the many islands, banks, shoals, reefs, and other features of the South China Sea, including the tiny Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and various boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin. There are further disputes, including the waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands, which many do not regard as part of the South China Sea. Claimant states are interested in retaining or acquiring the rights to fishing areas, the exploration and potential exploitation of possible crude oil and natural gas in the seabed of various parts of the South China Sea, and the every growing strategic control of the important shipping lanes.

In July 2016, an arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled against the People's Republic of China (PRC) maritime claims in Philippines v. China, although it has not been enforced yet.

South China Sea Claims

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