South China Sea

The Great Conflict: South China Sea

The case of the South China Sea is a prime case of might is right when discussing the global power politics and geopolitical developments. There is a common behaviour among animals, humans and states. When they become powerful and mature, they will start to stretch their wings and power beyond their spaces. Of course, China is a classic case. China projecting its influence in Asia predominantly the Asia Pacific. Here we will see the geopolitics of the South China Sea and its possible outcomes. 

Map of the South China Sea

When you see the South China Sea on the map, it is covered mainly by China followed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. South china sea is the largest sea in the world after the five oceans. The small islands, collectively an archipelago are in hundreds here mainly the sprately and Paracel islands.

South China Sea summary

This part of the sea is geo-strategically significant for China. The emergence of China as a global power gives more chances of power projection. Economically through OBOR and militarily around the Indian border aka Line of Actual Control LAC and in the South China Sea. 

Importance of South China Sea

These sea covers cover $3.37 trillion. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) predicts that 80 per cent of global trade occurred via sea. Out of 60% of maritime trade of Asia, this Sea carries one third. And $3-5 trillion of global with $1.3 trillion of US trade alone through this Sea route which was centuries old 1500 BC. 

South China Sea Dispute

The Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ is 200 nautical miles from the coastal line as mentioned by the United Nations Convention on Law of Seas UNCLOS 1982. But the case didn’t fit here because of the might of China. China claims the whole South China Sea even beyond the EEZ, rejecting claims of other littoral states and the UNCLOS. The vast power of China is quite evident from an example case in that China threatened the International Court of Justice ICJ when ICJ gave a verdict in favour of the Philippines. The world has become a jungle where survival is only for the mighty.

China’s nine-dash line

The Chinese claim of the nine-dash line refers to the undefined demarcation line used initially by the Republic of China.  And the People’s Republic of China (PRC), for their claims of the major part of the South China Sea. The nine-dash line covers from near Taiwan to Vietnam covering the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and some parts of Indonesia.

Philippines and south china sea dispute

The Philipines claimed sovereignty over the feature called carborough Shoal and the KIG, which was already been claimed by China, so they went to the ICJ and receive a verdict in favour of the Philipines. But due to the huge size and power of China, the Philippines is not been able to stop China. 

Islands in this Disputed Sea

South China Sea

There are hundreds of islands here, even China is building artificial islands to have more EEZ and legal strength. By making these artificial islands China will claim legality over the entire South China Sea. Though currently projecting but not as easy as a belief by the Chinese.   

Spratly Islands

The Spratly Islands are a disputed archipelago within this sea containing natural resources and marine resources, which China would love to take control of all these islands.

Paracel Islands 

These are also disputed archipelago consisting of more than thirty islands.

Chinese and US Naval Bases 

 There are naval exercises in this sea by China to threaten the US Asia Pacific Allies. To counter the influence of China the US is also building and strengthening alliances in the region. And so, they created the Quad (US, India, Japan, and Australia). The Strategic Alliances of major power make the Asia Pacific more hostile. Secondly, the presence of US troops is a blessing in disguise for the littoral South China Sea states. 

 Alternative Route for China?

with growing pressure from major powers, China perceived that there should be an alternative route for trade. Therefore, china collaborated with Pakistan via CPEC which provides benefits for China. First, there will be a smaller number of days to reach Chinese products in international markets. Secondly, the new route will be far safer than this one. And finally, the western Chinese undeveloped region will be industrialized and hence the whole of China will be developed exponentially.   


What is the issue of the South China Sea?

We have already discussed the issue in detail

Who does the South China Sea belong to?

This area of the sea belongs to no one but all. Whoever receives their share of EEZs under the UNCLOS 1982 will have sovereign rights over that area, not like what China claims the totality of this area of sea. 

Is the South China Sea belong to the Philippines?

Philipines also have a share as they are the coastal state according to UNCLOS, but they don’t have sovereign rights over all the region. 

Does the South China Sea belong to China?

China also has a share as they are a coastal state according to UNCLOS, but they don’t have sovereign rights over all the region. 

Why does the Philippines claim the South China Sea?

They are not claiming all of this area but they just want to stop China from controlling this whole sea.


The Social Darwinist approach of “Might is Right or Survival of the Fittest “is very fitted here. And “The Boss is always is right “is pretty much fitted to this case. Because China is the regional Boss and might, therefore whatever they do in the region, they are right. you can take it sarcastically but realistically seeing the scenario senses me that Might is always Right, and the fittest is China so they will survive.

What do you think about China’s steps Lawfully?   

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Rasool javed
Rasool javed
2 years ago

Very informative