A sea of just 1.4 Million Square Miles, surrounded by 13 countries and deeply influenced by couple of dozens more is probably the most disputed place on earth today. Welcome to the South China Sea (SCS), a place which can be predicted as the origin of another world war.Also Read - China Evergrande: What Led To Debt Crisis and Why Thursday Is Crucial
It is no ordinary waterbody. South China Sea is a dirty show of Chinese Imperialism & its expansionary motives. Here are some interesting facts about south china sea: Also Read - From Compulsory Leaves to Forced Resignations, How Countries Making COVID Vaccines Must For Citizens
- As per Chinapower, a whooping 5.3 Trillion USD trade is passing through it every year.
- More than 60% of global maritime trade and more than 22% of total global trade passes through this waterbody.
- One third of the global shipping passes through this sea every year.
- 40% of the global petroleum products passes through it.
- Over 65% of total trade of China & over 42% of total trade of Japan passes through SCS every year.
- Lifeline of at least 10 of the major countries is dependent upon SCS.
South China Sea, spread between the strait of Malacca to the strait of Taiwan, is the most notorious place on the globe after China Illegally reclaimed over 3200 Acres land on various island groups and made at least five military bases on these islands challenging the sovereignty of the Countries located in the vicinity. Its imaginary Nine Dash line is claiming the entire SCS putting China at loggerheads not only with the countries located in SCS but with other global powers too. So, what are the reasons of the dispute, lets ponder over them- Also Read - Afghanistan Should Not Become Threat To Neighbouring Countries: PM Modi at 13th BRICS Summit
- As per the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), the territorial boundaries of a country are 12 Nautical miles from its coast and the further 12 Nautical Miles is the area of Contiguous waters. All the nations follow this rule strictly except China. China presents its own view. It says that the entire sea is the extension of the continental shelf of China, it has been under control of China 2000 years ago and China has been controlling the trade in this region in ancient times. Thus, the sea belongs to China. This claim looks funny, but this is true, and China is hell bent to impose it on the world.
- China proposed its “Nine Dash Line” incorporating even territorial waters of Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. All these claims are made on the basis that the sea was the “Ancestral Property” of China which has been passing from one generation to another. This is resulting in Chinese claims on over 80% of South China Sea.
- It is a big challenge because after this Ancestral Claim today, tomorrow it can claim the right over other countries too. Ironically, China is the only country of the world which is having territorial disputes with each of its neighbours.
- Since SCS connects Pacific Ocean with Indian Ocean, it is an important transit lane and anyone controlling it will invariably have control over the maritime trade of the world. China wants the same and that’s why it has occupied Spratley Islands, Paracel Islands, Mischief Reef, Subi Reef & Scarborough Shoal.
Economically, SCS holds greater importance. This region holds nearly one third of world’s entire biodiversity. Being in nutrient rich tropical waters, it has highest density of seafood. More than 15% of the entire world’s fisheries are in this region. Apart from this, there is an expected presence of over 220 Billion Barrel of Oil reserves and massive gas & other hydrocarbon reserves are surveyed in this region. Further, SCS has highest untapped reserves of rare earth metals which are essential in today’s technology. China wants to claim all these resources & hence claiming a control over this Sea.
Apart from territorial and economic importance, this waterbody has a huge military significance too. Naturally when you have a territory with such heavy economic potential, its military significance becomes important too. Most of the famous Naval Battles of the history were fought in these waters. This sea was the main battle ground of allied forces & axis forces in second world war. More than 500 shipwrecks of different battles lying in the bottom of this sea are the evidence. In today’s scenario, it is a connecting link between Pacific & Indian Oceans and hence SCS is the most travelled route for navies of the world. It is also the primary operational area of United States Seventh Fleet.
Since China wants absolute control over these waters it is occupying the small islands as mentioned before. If these islands are made a military base with Missiles & other standoff weapons, the waters become totally impregnable for any navy of the world. In addition to denying entry to any force, China will also be able to exercise its control over all the countries located in the zone forcefully. That’s exactly the definition of Chinese Territorial Ambitions. Chinese economy is growing, population is growing, and it needs new boundaries, new resources, new avenues which dragon is hell bent to occupy either by trick or by force.
Time for the global powers to act and react. It is now or never.
(Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India.com. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.)