South China Sea: A Tug OF War

Spread the love

In this blog, I am going to talk about the strategic importance of the South China Sea. But before that, I would like to take you on a journey starting from location, significance, countries involved, and the reason for the International clash.


To know about the strategic importance and why this region is a stage of the contest, let us know about the geography of the place.

The South China Sea is situated where it connects both the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. It is surrounded by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia.

The sea covers 1,350,000 sq mil. There are two islands in the region over which countries are fighting, they are Parcel Island and Spratly island.


This region is one-third of the World’s shipping point pass through here. It had a trade of over 3 trillion dollars each year. It is the second most used lane in the world. It has oil reserves of around 7.7 billion barrels, natural gas worth 266 trillion cubic feet.

The package of natural gas and oil gas reserve and fishing ground make the region worth fighting for. It is said one who would dominate the region would have economic, and military advantage.

Reason for International Clash

Each country that resides around that region has a stake in its fishing ground, natural gas and oil, but China comes as a dominating entity where it holds a majority of the stake in the region using the very concept of the Nine-Dash Line. It refers to the old map, earlier it had eleven dash lines that were published on 1st December 1947 by the Republic of China giving it a U shape. Later the two lines were removed. The region certainly caught attention when the United Nations Economic Commission published a report in 1969 where it mentions that in between Taiwan and Japan underneath their sea bed there could be substantial energy disputes. Then in August 1976, the Philippines discovered oil fields. After several developments, UNCLOS was established on December 10 1982. 

As per UNCLOS Part II  Section 2. Limits of the Territorial Sea  in Article 3, mentions that “Every state has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.”

With such a statement China’s claim over the entire region based on the nine-dash line was thrown out of the window. Now legally the surrounding countries had got the stalk. But as China is a  strong nation in the region bully other countries. Over Parcel and Spratly island there is conquest among these countries.

For the ownership of Parcel island, there is a fight amongst China. Vietnam and Taiwan and for the Spratly island contest are amongst China, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Though countries surrounding the SCS were fighting for their respective dominance, it got escalated to the level that the territorial dispute was dragged to the International Court of Justice.

The Philippines dragged China to the International Court of Justice. After which it was mentioned that the nine-dash line concept is illegal, Also Court had rebuked China for destroying the Coral Reefs.

Now the USA comes here to ensure free navigation and control the ambition of China

The USA on the South China Sea.

It was after the speech of Hillary Clinton in the congress in 2010, the USA had considered the region seriously. After that Obama had also taken a stand on the South China Sea in order to ensure stability in the Asia- Pacific Region The USA had always promoted the idea of free navigation. But the question is why? The USA is not situated in that zone but what is the interest of the USA in this? As I have mentioned earlier that the South China Sea is a rich destination where all the resources such as oil fields, natural gas are found. As it connects both the Indian and Pacific Ocean this is worth trading. This is the busiest route. The USA had bilateral relations with the countries in this region. So protecting the rights of smaller countries is important. As this connects the Pacific and Indian ocean so the smooth South China Sea is required. The stability in the region is also important. The peace in the South China Sea would bring stability to the Asia Pacific region,rights%20to%20freedom%20of%20navigation.

Leave a Comment