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  • 10/26/2023


Why in news?

Recently, Philippines called China an “aggressor”, accusing it of “increasing tensions” in the South China Sea and causing the collision that damaged one of Manila’s boats during a resupply mission.

About South China Sea:

  • The South China Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is bounded in the north by the shores of South China, in the west by the Indochinese Peninsula, in the east by the islands of Taiwan and northwestern Philippines (mainly Luzon, Mindoro and Palawan), and in the south by the Indonesian islands of Borneo, eastern Sumatra and the Bangka Belitung Islands.
  • It encompassing an area of around 3,500,000 km2.
  • It communicates with the East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait, the Philippine Sea via the Luzon Strait, the Sulu Sea via the straits around Palawan, and the Java Sea via the Karimata and Bangka Straits.
  • The Gulf of Thailand and the Gulf of Tonkin are also part of South China Sea.
  • South China Sea is a region of tremendous economic and geostrategic importance.
  • One-third of the world's maritime shipping passes through it, carrying over US$3 trillion in trade each year.
  • Huge oil and natural gas reserves are believed to lie beneath its seabed.
  • It also contains lucrative fisheries, which are crucial for the food security of millions in Southeast Asia.
  • The South China Sea Islands, collectively comprising several archipelago clusters of mostly small uninhabited islands, islets (cays and shoals), reefs/atolls and seamounts numbering in the hundreds, are subject to competing claims of sovereignty by several countries.
  • These claims are also reflected in the variety of names used for the islands and the sea.

9-Dash line Issue:

  • The nine-dash line, also referred to as the eleven-dash line by Taiwan, is a set of line segments on various maps that accompanied the claims of the People's Republic of China (PRC, "mainland China") and the Republic of China (ROC, "Taiwan") in the South China Sea.
  • The contested area includes the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, the Pratas Island and the Vereker Banks, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Scarborough Shoal.
  • Certain places have undergone land reclamation by the PRC, ROC, and Vietnam.
  • According to former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, "China's nine-dash line territorial claim over the entire South China Sea is against international laws, particularly the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS)".
  • Vietnam also rejects the Chinese claim, citing that it is baseless and contrary to UNCLOS.