South China Sea: The Next Possible Flashpoint of Conflict
The South China Sea, the collection of these words, does not require an extraordinary thinking power to understand the status of explicit indicators of a potential major threat. The South China Sea is part of the Western Pacific Ocean. It provides coast to different countries; for instance, the People Republic of China, Vietnam, the Philippine, Burnie, Taiwan, and Malaysia. All these countries are the claimants of the oceans on the South China Sea, which they own. These claims are behind the reason for conflict.
These are some significant motives behind these claims; for example, the South China Sea has vast untapped energy and sizeable sea-food stock resources. Moreover, it is one of the formidable routes of trade and energy transportation. Approximately 5.3 trillion of trade carries out through the South China Sea every year. Similarly, according to the US Energy Information Administration, for around 30 percent of Crude oil trade, the South China Sea remained a vital passage in 2016. All the global powers have an interest in retaining authority on the present sea.
People Republic of China's claims over the South China Sea
China strengthens its claims on the South China Sea by presenting controversial evidence from past times and proofs of 1902-1939. 1952 peace treaty after World War II between Japan and China forwarded as the strongest proof behind these claims.
The South China Sea engulfs 3.6 million square kilometers. China claims the sea's vast area is powered by the law of the sea convention and its Nine-dash line. This nine-dash line is based on approximately 2000 kilometers from the ocean of the Chinese mainland.
In short, China asserts its claim over 90% of the South China Sea. Spratly Island, Parcel Island, and Scarborough reef/ shoal are the important share of China's claim over the current sea.
The Philippine's claims
The Philippine is also one of the strong claimants in the South China Sea. One can easily see that the Philippine went to the permanent court of arbitration in the Hague in 2016. The permanent court of arbitration gave the decision in favor of the Philippines' claim. The People Republic of China rebuffed the jurisdiction of the court.
Scarborough shoal/reef and Spratly Island are the most important part of the Philippines' claims over the South China Sea
Malaysia is also among one of the claimants on the properties related to the South China Sea. It asserts its claims over ten atolls in the Spratlys archipelago in the present sea. The incredible about claims is that all of it is located in the EEZ.
China opposes these claims on the basis of its so-called nine-dash line, which approximately covers 2000 kilometers from the Chinese mainland. Moreover, Malaysia claims overlap with different regional countries.
It is the legitimate right of each country to take benefit from 200 nautical miles in the sea, which is called its EEZ. Vietnam is in dispute with China near 50 years. First, it nullifies china's so-called nine-dash line, which allows it to assert its power over 80 percent of the sea. Claims over the Paracel Islands and the seafood stock become the main reason for generating heat in their relation. Untapped oil and gas unexploited resources under the Vietnamese's continental shelf are also the primary reasons for claims.
Taiwan claims a vast area of the South China Sea; for instance, it asserts sovereignty approximately all island groups. It took control of Taiping Island and Paratas ( Donghsha).
Taiwan is one of the countries which completely rejects China's sovereignty over the South China Sea by the nine-dash line. The claims of Taiwan overlap with the claims of China, Vietnam, and the Philippine.
Brunei is the country that remained silent for a long-time over the issues of the South China Sea. But, on 20 July of the current year, it has broken long-silence over the contemporary issue. Rifleman bank, Owen shoal, and Louisa reef are included in its maritime features. The critical point is that it is included in its EEZ. But, the tiny Sultanate Brunei has only claimed Louisa reef, the part of its continental shelf.
It is pertinent to disclose here that Brunei does not control any one of these by physical existence.
Claims as the threat of war
The People Republic of China is the country in the present region with extensive ability to exercise its power to fortify its claims. All the other countries are not powerful enough. China controls physical lists of maritime features in the South China Sea, such as most of the Parcel Islands, the Spratlys, the Scarborough shoal.
Other countries like the Philippine, Vietnam, and Malaysia also claim these maritime features. The worst big problem for these countries is that China has started to militarize these Islands. It is purposefully busy to weak their claims by threatening them with massive military engagement. Some countries like the Philippine went to sue china in the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague. China refused the jurisdiction of the court and did not follow it. It shows the authoritarian approach of China to support its claims.
Other regional countries are trying to balance the power by establishing ties with global powers such as Taiwan's growing relationship with the US. Moreover, the US has trade interests with these countries by the South China Sea. This ongoing complex situation is going to be turned out into serious conflict.
The US interests in the South China Sea
The US also has a deep interest in the South China Sea. It carries out a large part of a trade from the present sea, which is crucial to the American economy. The hegemony of China on the South China Sea means removing trade advantage for the US. The US and China are the great rival of each other in every field. Both have a strong military presence, particularly of formidable naval forces. The issue is critical to the US advantage; that is why it is personal to the US.
To ensure internationally recognized rights, the US continued freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. It is trying to involve other countries in doing so, such as Australia.
China is continuously refusing the global law approach regarding the Territorial Oceans; the obvious example of this fact is the refusal of the jurisdiction of the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague. The US seems committed to ensuring the safety of its interests.
Preventing global justice institutions from exercising its influence and implementing forceful policy to safeguard the interests are taking the South China Sea turning into a potential highly-armed conflict zone. All the major parties of the conflict seem busy in preparation of armed-conflict. The pathetic point is that no one is thinking upon the way of discourse and negotiation.
All the regional powers should keep in mind that the fighting war is not among any solution to the problem. We should realize the damage posed to humanity when we go to choose war as the ultimate solution. The only best way to solve the South China Sea issue is to involve international law bodies into matters and accept their decision in this critical matter. Each state should respect the rights of other states as well. The approach of discourse and holding is an excellent solution than any other approach. At the same time, the other way goes to the destruction of humanity.
It is up to us which way we choose.