How The South China Sea Dispute Could Become The Next Global Conflict
Last updated on October 10th, 2023 at 10:52 am
A fresh controversy has brought the South China Sea dispute to the forefront as China recently installed a barricade near the waterway’s Scarborough Shoal.
China and the Philippines have long been embroiled in a tussle over the shoal’s territorial claim. Read on to learn how the disputed waterway could pave the way for the next global conflict.
An Introduction To The South China Sea Dispute
According to the United States Energy Information Agency, there are 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in deposits under the South China Sea.
The sea is also a crucial trade route and home to rich fishing grounds. According to the BBC, more than 50% of the world’s fishing vessels operate in this area.
The disputed waterway is situated just south of the Chinese mainland and bordered by the countries of Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Brunei and the Philippines.
Although the countries have long engaged in tough and tense discussions over territorial claims in the South China Sea, tensions have exacerbated to new heights in recent years.
The reason? The sea is one of the most strategically critical maritime areas and China eyes its control in order to assert more power over the region.
What Is The Nine-Dash Line?
In 1947, China issued a map with the so-called ‘nine-dash line’, which essentially demarcates the country’s territorial claims in the South China Sea on Chinese maps.
But on what parameters the line has been drawn? China’s claim on the waters and islands within the boundary is based on its “historical maritime rights”.
The controversial line runs as far as 2,000 km from the Chinese mainland to within a few hundred kilometres of Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
With other countries widely contesting its claims, China has physically increased the size of islands or created new ones altogether, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
In an effort to challenge China’s claims and protect its own interests, Washington has also increased its military activity and naval presence in South Asia.
Can The Dispute Be Resolved?
It’s quite impossible to come up with a quick solution to the controversy. Therefore, there is an understandable fear that the dispute could soon become the next global conflict.
Some believed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) might find a way to tackle the issue. But the group has largely failed to do so due to internal conflicts.