South China Sea


Why In News :

Recently, the Philippines Coast Guard removed barriers placed by Chinese vessels at the entrance to a lagoon off the Scarborough Shoal.

About :

  • South – China Sea : An arm of the western Pacific Ocean that borders the Southeast Asian mainland.
  • Bordered by : Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • It is connected by the Taiwan Strait with the East China Sea and by the Luzon Strait with the Philippine Sea.
  • It Comprises three archipelagos, namely, the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Pratas Islands and Macclesfield’s Bank and Scarborough Shoal.
  • Connecting link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean (Strait of Malacca).

Significance of the South China Sea

Strategic Location

Trade Importance: Approximately USD 3.37 trillion worth of trade passed through the South China Sea in 2016, making it a crucial global trade route.

Fishing Ground: The South China Sea is also a rich fishing ground, providing a vital source of livelihood and food security for millions of people in the region.

Disputes :

  • China’s Nine Dash Line: Defines area claimed by China – by far the largest portion of the Sea. China asserts a claim to 90% of the South China Sea. [ claimed as eleven-dash line by Taiwan ]
  • Scarborough Shoal: Claimed both by the Philippines and China (known as Huangyan Island in China).
  • Spratlys: Occupied by claimants, which consist of Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, China and Malaysia.
  • Paracel Islands: Subject of overlapping claims by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.
  • Island Chain Strategy: A geographical security concept crafted by the United States in the 1940s to deter China and the Soviet Union’s maritime ambitions.

The First Island Chain comprises the Kuril Islands, the Japanese Archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, northwest Philippines and ending at Borneo.

This chain is also the first line of defence and serves as the maritime boundaries between the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.

In this chain are located the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait which are critical chokepoints for China.