Troubled Waters in the Pacific: the Case of the Disputes in the South China Sea (SCS)

Article

The remarks present the general overview with regard to the troubled waters in the Pacific: The case of the disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) which highlights the disputes itself; incidents occurred in the sea; US-China rivalry; and how the disputes affect Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) unity. The remarks conclude that maritime security remains an important issue in the region....

The remarks present the general overview with regard to the troubled waters in the Pacific: The case of the disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) which highlights the disputes itself; incidents occurred in the sea; US-China rivalry; and how the disputes affect Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) unity. The remarks conclude that maritime security remains an important issue in the region.

The long-standing disputes in the SCS has started its controversy ever since 2009 when China submitted what is known as the nine-dash line to United Nations. However, the maps that China claims has published long before in 1947, with then eleven dash forming a U-shaped line. The disputes are involving China, Taiwan and four other ASEAN Member States; the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. The conflict, however, mostly dominated by China, Vietnam and the Philippines with Spratly and Paracel islands under the contention. The significance of the sea relies on the fact that it connects the Northeast Asia and Western Pacific Ocean and offers the shortest routes between the two. The shipping passage, moreover, constitutes one-third of the global maritime trade. What exist below the surface: a projected 28 billion barrels of oil, 260 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and ten percent of the world’s fish1 are also the contributing factors as to why the sea is significant.

China, as the major power claims almost the entirety of the disputed area that is known as the U-shaped line or Nine-dash line and is being viewed as a matter of National Identity. The view has added to the complexity of the disputes.

The disputes have also involved incidents in the sea, such as cutting cable incidents between China and Vietnam in 2011, Oil rig placement within Vietnam’s EEZ in 2014, marking the first time for China to place one of its oil rigs in the EEZ of another state without prior permission. Other incidents occurred between China and Philippine in 2012 with respect to Scarborough Shoals which was seized by China.

Vietnam internationalised the issue by raising it to the United States at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that was held in Hanoi. For the first time, then US Secretary State Hillary Clinton stated that Unites States has interest in the, open access to Asia’s maritime commons, freedom of navigation, respect for international law in the SCS, the US also opposes to the use of threat or force by any claimants.2 Ever since, China has shown its objection over the intervention of the-third party. Beijing has stated its preference that the best way to resolve the disputes is for the related countries to have direct bilateral negotiations.

Concerns among the disputants have also heightened by the land reclamation China’s built on Spratlys. Since the beginning of the construction, the concern over its rapid control over SCS and the fear of China militarizing the region have shimmered. The situation has also drawn attention from Washington. Beijing’s armed forces have installed antimissile weaponry, US officials reported to believed that the structures designed to house long-range surfacetoair missile launchers.3 Contrary to what Beijing had argued before, that the construction aimed to support the civilian.

US rebalance, can be further seen in its activity in the disputed area. The US Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the SCS aims to send a clear message for Its stance that all Nations oblige to obey the International Law of the Sea as codified in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as asserts its rights to traverse the waters aligned with international law.

It is taken from TASAM Publishing's book named “New World Architecture Of Economy and Security“
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