Position argument paper: China and the dispute over South China Sea.

Position argument paper: China and the dispute over South China Sea.


On June June 21th, 2012, A new city was established in an island within the Paracel archipelago , which  under the Chinese jurisdiction that is also claimed by Vietnam . Named Sansha, this new establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in a currently disputed area has highly intensified the pressure in the area. Within the scope of this paper, we will study the causes and reasons behind the dispute as well as analyzing the consequences that might arise .

The Paracel ( Hoang Sa, in Vietnamese) and Spratly (Truong Sa) Islands, as well as Huangyan Islands ( in Philippine’s territory) and many other islands in the area controlled by Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia were in the South China sea, which China claims it’s undisputed sovereignty over. This unsurprisingly resulted in many opposition from the related countries, especially in Vietnam and Philippines where the area is identified as a rich source of natural resources.

China claims mostly of South China Sea ( the area enclosed in the red dots in the illustration), also known as the ” Cow’s tongue” dated back to thousands of years ago. The claim was stated according to China archeoogical evidence that Chinese people were the first ones to occupy these islands . However these so called evidences , “documents are travel accounts, monographs, and navigation books demonstrating knowledge of ancient people about territories belonging to not only China but also other countries” (Dương Danh Huy). Beside, these claims contradicts the Gǔjīn TúshūJichéng(古今圖書集成, Complete Atlas on the Past and Present) completed by the Qing Dynasty in 1706, which indicated that there are no archipelagos belong in the China sovereign any further than Hainan.

In the case of Paracels dispute, Vietnam also has documents dated back to centuries about the occupation on its islands. And, most importantly, this claim is backed up and record in the 1982 United Nation Law of Sea and the two archipelagos have always been on every map indicating Vietnam territory.

Despite all of the arguments and contradicting opinions going on around the issue, China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), a state oil giant, has invited foreign firms in to bid on oil blocks that overlap territory being explored by Vietnam, ” putting the 160,000 sq km of water on offer at the forefront of Asia’s biggest potential military flashpoint. ” (Fabi, Aizhu). Oil firms around the world have until next June to make their decision on drilling these oil blocks, until now the offer seems to received little interest from major oil companies who ‘s wary about the current situation and don’t want to intensify the problem.

The actions taken by Chinese government can be condemned to be an offensive movement toward the relationship between China and it’s neighborhood. Reuter’s interviews on some major players in the industry help confirming the previous point :

“China’s view is that the little countries, like Vietnam and the Philippines, are increasingly stealing its resources and it must demonstrate it is serious about upholding its claims,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

“The Chinese government’s stance is clearer than ever … They want to take on and develop this region,” said an executive at a global oil major, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

At of the moment China has many of their vessels and military warship patrolling the South China Sea ‘s water, deeply  affecting the commerce and the fishing industry in the area. This action heavily interrupt the normal busy trade route in the South China Sea and the lives of thousands of fishermen in from many countries in the area.

The dispute between China and the South East Asia countries about the South China Sea is still continue and the issue has recently showed sign of escalating because of some of the offensive measurements taken by China. It’s seem like China, the newest potential super power country in the world is going to show the other little nearby countries how to not compete with a major power. The strategy is quite clearly as Reuters pointed out : “First came the diplomatic offensive, then the flexing of military muscle.” However the outcome are still unknown.


Figure 1: Areas under competition between China and the South East Asian countries ( courtesy to BBC UK).





Works Cited

Aizhu, Randy Fabi and Chen. “Analysis: China Unveils Oil Offensive in South China Sea Squabble.” Yahoo!             News. Reuters, 01 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2012.

Dương, Huy Danh. “A Legal Analysis in Support of Viet Nam’s Position regarding the Paracel & Spratly     Islands.” – The Medical and Societal Journal of a Vitreo-retinal Surgeon. N.p., 29 June 2012. Web.            03 Aug. 2012. <http://eyedrd.org/2012/06/a-legal-analysis-support-viet-nams-position-           regarding-paracel-spratly-islands.html>.

Gayathri, Amrutha. “South China Sea: Chinese, Philippine And Vietnamese Oil Tenders Escalate                Tensions.” International Business News, Financial News, Market News, Politics, Forex,                        Commodities. IBT, 2 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <http://www.ibtimes.com/&gt;.

“South China Sea Conflict – Global Times.” South China Sea Conflict – Global Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 03     Aug. 2012. <http://www.globaltimes.cn/SPECIALCOVERAGE/SouthChinaSeaConflict.aspx&gt;.

United Nation. “CHAPTER XXI LAW OF THE SEA.” Error Page. UNTC, 10 Dec. 1982. Web. 03 Aug. 2012.                 <http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsIII.aspx&gt;.

Wong, Edward. “Freed From Shoals, Warship Heads Back to China.” The New York Times. The New York               Times, 17 July 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2012.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: