The South China sea is a relatively small sea, compared to the Atlantic for example, but it is causing many geo-political, military and geo-economic issues.
The dispute is centred on the Spratly islands, a small set of reefs in the middle of the sea. It is causing a problem within international diplomacy and politics because the main players China, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia are all claiming part, or all of the reef as their own.
The main issue here is that the South China sea is rich in resources such as minerals and oil. Analysts are describing the South China Sea as another “Persian oil gulf” which highlights the valuable and consequently fractious nature of this region. It is also a very important shipping route, for example $5.3 trillion USD worth of trade passes through this sea. Almost certainly, any item you buy which originates from China, will have passed through this sea. In the event that tensions escalate to military proportions, it will directly affect our shops and your shopping. So the combined reasons of trade and resources mean that all the bordering countries want to control this area.
China has claimed “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratly islands (more like reefs) and the majority of the South China Sea – shown by the red lines on the map – and China wants to “remain firm to defend its rights in the region.” So, without international regulation or awareness this region has the potential to be very troublesome…
I hope you can see the problem beginning to emerge!
Until next time,
The Geography Duo
Try out this link from BBC news if you’re still interested!