Daniel Halliday
Jul 19 · Last update 1 mo. ago.
Which country has legitimate claims over the South China Sea?
With seven states claiming territory in the South China Sea, and many other states claiming it should be counted as international waters, which state/s have a fair claim?
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The US should ratify UNCLOS so that international community can behave amicably at sea
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It should remain international waters, for the sake of biodiversity in the atolls, reefs and islands
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China has historical rights over this area
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The US should ratify UNCLOS so that international community can behave amicably at sea

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the international agreement that deals with territorial claims at sea. It has been signed by the vast majority of countries in the world and the United States is one of the few that hasn’t. Signing this treaty would give the international community a stronger stance to challenge China’s unrealistic and aggressive claim to the entire South China Sea.

This belligerence is part of a larger bid for Chinese territorial grabs and should be looked upon equally as unfavourable. Hostility is a theme running through all of China’s border disputes both on land and at sea, as can be seen in the recent military border posturing with India. The areas China is claiming at sea however are rich in oil and natural gas deposits, which is the most probable reason why China intends to seek ownership over this territory.

The majority of international legal experts hold China’s historical claims to be invalid, and China’s position in the region is largely seen as ambiguous. The historical claim does not hold up to scrutiny as China may have some records claiming the territory, but as these were never internationally recognised, and many other countries share legitimate older and newer claims to the area, this argument falls apart completely. Indonesia has a history of sailing the South China Sea, both to attack south Vietnam and to send envoys to ancient China, throughout the 6th and 7th centuries the Javanese Kingdom of Tarumanagara sent envoys to China, initially as far back as 528 AD. The earliest records of Chinese government or navy ships sailing in this area is not until the 12th century.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 4
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DH edited this paragraph
This belligerence is part of a larger bid for Chinese territorial grabs and should be looked upon equally as unfavourable. Hostility is a theme running through all of China’s border disputes both on land and at sea, as can be seen in the recent military border posturing with India. The areas China is claiming at sea however are rich in oil and natural gas deposits, which is the most probable reason why China intends to seek ownership over this territory.
It should remain international waters, for the sake of biodiversity in the atolls, reefs and islands

China is reclaiming large amounts of land by dredging sand over coral reefs and then concreting it in place to build upon. China has so far carried out thousands of acres of land reclamation in the South China Sea, despite having no legal basis of claim over any of these islands, atolls or coral reefs. It is not just the destruction of habitats in question here, but also pollution and interruption of bird, fish and mammal migration routes. The destructive force this land reclamation poses for biodiversity in the region is huge and these processes needs to be stopped.

Scientists such as Frank Muller-Karger, professor of biological oceanography at the University of South Florida, have criticised China’s actions in the South China Sea. He stated that construction on these islands and atolls can wash sediment back into the sea causing blooms which will smother aquatic life in the area. Furthermore heavy metals, oil and other chemical contaminants from both construction and shipping can damage these oases of biodiversity.

The issue goes beyond incidental destruction of natural habitats though, as the direct deliberate damage has also occurred in the region as a result of the actions of Chinese fishermen. Chinese fishermen have been accused of fishing endangered species in the South China Sea and destroying marine habitats, targeting giant clams and wrecking vibrant coral reefs in the process. This additional exploitation only adds to China’s claims to be constructing on dead coral reefs as fisherman play an active role in killing them. Chinese actions have currently damaged 30 square miles near the Spratly Islands.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 4
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DH edited this paragraph
Scientists such as Frank Muller-Karger, professor of biological oceanography at the University of South Florida, have criticised China’s actions in the South China Sea. He stated that construction on these islands and atolls can wash sediment back into the sea causing blooms which will smother aquatic life in the area. Furthermore heavy metals, oil and other chemical contaminants from both construction and shipping can damage these oases of biodiversity.
China has historical rights over this area

This body of water was first described in Chinese history, and is recognised by name internationally as the South China Sea by nearly all countries. The international laws that have been used to argue against China’s claims have not even been signed or ratified by the US, and China has many allies backing it on this issue. China has officially stated its openness to bilateral negotiations with all other claimants.

In August 2018 the first draft pact was proposed to minimise the escalation of disputes in this region at an ASEAN conference. Rather than getting involved in territorial claims, the talks intended to establish a code of conduct between claimant nations to stop any disputes escalating into violence. While this hasn’t addressed any countries territorial rights, a code of conduct may allow many countries to use China’s South Sea peacefully.

The main issue here is a conflict between China and the US. Despite this area remaining far outside of the territory of the US, they continue to carry out aggressive naval drills in the region, almost causing a major collision in Sept 2018 between a Chinese destroyer and a US warship. The USA continues to sign defence agreements with neighbouring countries as a means to intimidate China militarily, along the same line as recent economic aggressions.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 4
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DH edited this paragraph
The main issue here is a conflict between China and the US. Despite this area remaining far outside of the territory of the US, they continue to carry out aggressive naval drills in the region, almost causing a major collision in Sept 2018 between a Chinese destroyer and a US warship. The USA continues to sign defence agreements with neighbouring countries as a means to intimidate China militarily, along the same line as recent economic aggressions.
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