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Why the Tension in South China Sea Claims

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The South China Sea has long been a source of tension and contention among countries in the region. The area is rich in natural resources and is a crucial maritime route for global trade, making it a desirable territory for many nations. However, conflicting claims over the ownership of islands, reefs, and waters in the South China Sea have led to heightened tensions and raised concerns about the potential for conflict.

One of the main reasons for the tension in the South China Sea is the overlapping territorial claims by several countries. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan all have overlapping claims to the waters and islands in the region. China, in particular, has been assertive in asserting its claims, constructing artificial islands and military outposts in disputed areas.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides a framework for resolving maritime disputes, but not all countries in the region have ratified the convention. China, for example, has rejected the arbitration ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated its claims to historic rights in the South China Sea. This has further fuelled tensions in the region.

The presence of major powers such as the United States also adds to the tension in the South China Sea. The US conducts freedom of navigation operations in the area to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims and ensure freedom of navigation for all countries. This has been viewed by China as provocative and has led to a further escalation of tensions.

The South China Sea is a complex and sensitive area with competing interests at play. Resolving the disputes in the region will require a concerted effort by all parties involved to respect international law, uphold the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes, and promote regional stability and cooperation. Failure to do so could lead to further escalation of tensions and jeopardise the peace and security of the region.

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