The Fight To Control The South China Sea

The South China Sea has been the source of escalating tension among neighboring coastal countries. So why is this territorial dispute so complex and why is this region so valuable?

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In response to critical comments made by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chinese officials doubled down in their claim that the country was entitled to build artificial islands in the South China Sea. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China the body of water falls under Chinese sovereignty and the U.S. should play no part in the area. Hua came outright and accused the U.S. of committing "provocations and instigations" that could threaten stability in the area, according to the Associated Press. Her comments come just after Secretary Ash Carter called on all countries in the region to bring the territorial dispute to a halt. As explored here, the South China Sea has a long history of nations laying claim to it. It's a vital economic highway and also rich in oil deposits. As of now, it appears China has to intention to end its construction endeavors.

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Armed Clash in the South China Sea (Council on Foreign Relations)
"American officials insist that Washington does not take sides in the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and refuse to comment on how the United States might respond to Chinese aggression in contested waters. Nevertheless, an apparent gap exists between American views of U.S. obligations and Manila's expectations."

South China Sea: Conflicting Claims And Tensions (Lowy Institute)
"Geographically, the South China Sea plays a significant role in the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific. The South China Sea is bordered by China, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan."

Lessons from the Battle of the Paracel Islands (The Diplomat)
"The Battle of the Paracel Islands has since gone down history as the first Sino-Vietnamese naval skirmish in the quest for control over the South China Sea isles. The Sino-Vietnamese naval skirmish in the nearby Spratly Islands in 1988 was the second and final such instance. Since then, tensions have eased."