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Ten things to know about the South China Sea issue

A look into the strategic importance of the region and the diplomatic wars surrounding it

BS Web Team  |  Mumbai 

'Concerned' by situation in East, South China seas, says G7

In what should have been a setback for China, an international tribunal in The Hague stated that the nation had no claim over the South China Sea and ruled in favour of Philippines. However, China rejected the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision, stating that the order had no legal binding on it.

The South China Sea has seen disputes from various nations who claim to have territorial rights in the region.testing.. we are here....

The Philippines has had disputes with China over Scarborough Shoal and Spratly and says that the ‘nine-dash line’, a method of demarcation by China on its territorial claims, is unlawful.

Business Standard gives a ten-point guide to the strategic importance of the region and why it has seen diplomatic wars.

1. The South China Sea is located at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 1.4 million square miles and has a collection of reefs, islands and atolls, and includes Spartly Islands, Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal

2. The nine-dash line stretches along several miles south and east from Hainan Province. The country states that its right to the area goes back centuries when Paracel and Spartly island chains were regarded as parts of Chinese nation. In 1947, it issued a map showing the two groups of land falling entirely within its territory. Taiwan, too, has claimed similar rights.

3. China released a white paper against the verdict by a UN-backed tribunal that struck down its "historical rights" in the South China Sea, insisting that Beijing has claims over the strategic region for 2,000 years.

4. One of the major reasons for the dispute is the trade businesses that are carried through the route. Nearly $5 trillion worth of commercial goods pass through the region every year.

5. The area is known to be rich in oil and gas reserves. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proven and probable reserves, according to a report in Huffington Post.

6. The countries in dispute have artificially built islands in the sea to mark their territory. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia have built airstrips capable of holding cargo, surveillance or fighter jets in the sea, according to satellite images analyzed by Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Huffington Post's report adds.

7. Time and again, analysts have ascertained that if the strife intensifies, it could lead to military action from several ends, leading to dangerous repercussions. In the past too, there have been instances of troops being killed in the diplomatic war.

8. While there have been attempts for negotiations, it has had its own set of controversies. China prefers bilateral talks with nations on the issue, while other countries feel China’s clout gives it an unfair advantage.

The US connection

9. The United States has sent warships and military aircraft around the South China Sea. It claims that it has economic interests in the region. About $1.2 trillion of US-traded goods travel through the South China Sea each year.

10. China has warned Washington against its military deployment. It has stated that the US isn't among the 180 nations to have ratified UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, says this report from CNN.

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First Published: Wed, July 13 2016. 11:18 IST