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Why has the South China Sea turn out to be so contentious? | World Information

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The legislation of the ocean is obvious and easy sufficient: a rustic’s territorial sea extends to 12 nautical miles from shore and a rustic’s unique financial zone – the place the state has unique rights over pure sources – extends 200 miles.

The issue is that there are a number of international locations bordering the South China Sea – and their claims battle.

That is earlier than you add in China‘s personal extraordinarily expansive declare – the nine-dash line which claims practically the entire sea as theirs. That was rejected by a global tribunal, a choice which China rejected.

South China Sea sky map

That is why options within the sea turn out to be so necessary – and so contentious.

Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Dao by the Chinese language, is within the Philippines’ unique financial zone (EEZ). However because the reporting from our Asia crew vividly reveals, it’s managed by China.

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Learn extra:
How a Philippine ship ended up surrounded by 12 Chinese vessels

The South China Sea is plagued by related small shoals, reefs and atolls, together with islands correct. And China particularly, has tried to enlarge them.

These enlargements can not change the authorized standing of the atolls, reefs or rocks – solely islands get an EEZ. However they will nonetheless be used to mission energy – and to bolster a rustic’s claims.

China took management of Fiery Cross Reef in 1988. Even in 2009, it remained a rock. However by 2015, land had been reclaimed and a harbour and runway constructed.

Sky satellite gfx of Fiery Cross Reef for use in D&F South China Sea piece
Sky satellite gfx of Fiery Cross Reef for use in D&F South China Sea piece

There are radar and remark towers, and even leisure amenities for troops. This can be a full-on navy set up. Crucially, they will host anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile programs too.

Or take Subi Reef, beforehand only a low tide elevation. However 976 acres have been reclaimed and a runway has by some means been squeezed into the skinny circle of land.

No nation has been as vigorous as China in digging out new land in the midst of the ocean – however others have been fortifying the area too.

Take Thitu island, the place there is a runway and numerous buildings. It’s the second-largest naturally shaped land characteristic within the disputed Spratly Islands and has been occupied by the Philippines since 1974.

And only recently, the Philippines stated they plan to “fortify” the islands they occupy, together with Thitu.

Sky satellite gfx of Thitu Island for use in D&F South China Sea piece
Sky satellite gfx of Thitu Island for use in D&F South China Sea piece

China tends to reject the cost of militarising the South China Sea – and likes to level to US actions.

In 2021, a Chinese language overseas ministry spokesperson stated: “It’s the USA which has truly militarised the realm and threatened freedom of navigation… the nation, over 8,300 miles from the South China Sea, has constructed a number of navy bases with offensive weapons across the space, and regularly despatched plane carriers and strategic bombers all year long.”

The US doesn’t declare any a part of the South China Sea however it does regularly ship warships on freedom of navigation operations.

And it owns or has entry to bases that encompass the area – and China.

Following Sky Information witnessing a Chinese language ship firing water cannon at a Philippine coastguard vessel that was on a resupply mission to Scarborough Shoal, we approached the Chinese language embassy in London for remark.

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Confrontation in South China Sea

In reply, it referred to remarks by a spokesperson for the Chinese language ministry of overseas affairs who stated: “Huangyan Dao has all the time been China’s territory.

“The Philippine coastguard vessel and official vessel entered waters of Huangyan Dao with out Chinese language permission, which critically infringed on China’s sovereignty.

“The China coastguard took essential measures in accordance with the legislation, and the best way it dealt with the scenario was skilled, correct and lawful. China urges the Philippines to cease making infringement and provocations directly and to not problem China’s resolve to defend our sovereignty.”

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