The South China Sea is surrounded by ten different countries and is one of the world’s most important transport routes. This is a tributary of the Pacific Ocean, which is also part of the Australian Mediterranean. Despite the fact that so many countries have shores to this sea, China is very clear that the sea is theirs. China has long made it clear that the entire South China Sea is their territory, and it is not so difficult to understand why this is an important issue. This is because the sea hides large pockets of oil and minerals. However, the conflict between the countries around the sea concerns not only the water but also the islands and is an international issue where the United States has also intervened in discussions and decisions.
The South China Sea is very large and it is often said that it is the largest sea area in the world after the great oceans.
Geography and climate
The South China Sea is on a continental shelf that has been submerged. Researchers believe that the whole area was once a landmass and that islands such as Borneo were part of the mainland. Geologists have slightly different views on when and how the sea was formed and this is still something that is being investigated and discussed. As mentioned, this is a very large sea area of about 3,000,000 km² and it is surrounded by the countries Brunei, Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, there are hundreds of islands and important reefs in the sea and here islands such as the Anamba Islands, the Dongsha Islands, the Natuna Islands, the Paracel Islands and the Zhongha Islands can be mentioned.
The sea receives a lot of sediment from rivers such as the Mekong River, the Red River and the Pearl River, which all flow into it. Many of these rivers flow into the river delta, which is also rich in gas and oil.
Conflicts over territory
As is well known, conflicts often have to do with natural resources, and the South China Sea has large resources of minerals, gas and oil. Conflicts over territory in the area concern both islands and bodies of water, and it is mainly Brunei, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam that do not agree on where borders should be drawn. What is mainly discussed is the right to fish in specific archipelagos and the right to extract gas and oil in different parts of the sea. In addition, there is no agreement on who should control the trade routes that run through the sea.
The fact that the United States took part in this conflict in 2010 and took it to the international level is due to the fact that the United States is interested in free access to shipping routes and trade routes at sea. From China’s side, it was not liked that outsiders got involved as it is believed that this is a regional issue that the countries involved can solve themselves.