Other names: Zhongsha Islands
|Location||South China Sea|
|Area||6,448 square kilometres (2,490 sq mi) total, 0 km² land surface/islets|
|Length||About 130 kilometres (81 mi)|
|Width||About 70 kilometres (43 mi)|
|Highest point||Unnamed point below sea level
−9.2 metres (−30 ft)
|People's Republic of China|
|Republic of China (Taiwan)|
Macclesfield Bank, also called the Zhongsha Islands (simplified Chinese: 中沙群岛; traditional Chinese: 中沙群島; pinyin: Zhōngshā Qúndǎo; literally "Central Sandy Islands"), is an elongated sunken atoll of underwater reefs and shoals in the South China Sea. It lies east of the Paracel Islands, southwest of the Pratas Islands and north of the Spratly Islands. Its length exceeds 130 km (81 mi) southwest-northeast, with a maximal width of more than 70 km (43 mi). With an ocean area of 6,448 km2 (2,490 sq mi) within the outer rim of the reef, although completely submerged without any emergent cays or islets, it is one of the largest atolls of the world.
The broken coral reef rim of Macclesfield Bank, with a width of up to 8 km (5 mi), has depths of 11.8 m (39 ft) at Pygmy Shoal on the northeast end of the bank and depths of 11.6 to 18 m (59 ft) elsewhere. Within the lagoon, Walker Shoal marks the least known depth of 9.2 metres (30 ft). In general, the central lagoon is very deep, with depths up to 100 metres (330 ft).
The elongated atoll consists of:
|Siamese Shoal||Simen Ansha||西門暗沙|
|Bankok Shoal||Bengu Ansha||本固暗沙|
|Magpie Shoal||Meibin Ansha||美濱暗沙|
|Carpenter Shoal||Luban Ansha||魯班暗沙|
|Oliver Shoal||Zhongbei Ansha||中北暗沙|
|Pigmy (Pygmy) Shoal||Biwei Ansha||比微暗沙|
|Engeria (Egeria) Bank||Yinji Tan||隱磯灘|
|Howard Shoal||Wuyong Ansha||武勇暗沙|
|Learmonth Shoal||Jimeng Ansha||濟猛暗沙|
|Plover Shoal||Haijiu Ansha||海鳩暗沙|
|Addington Patch||Anding Lianjiao||安定連礁|
|Smith Shoal||Meixi Ansha||美溪暗沙|
|Bassett Shoal||Bude Ansha||布德暗沙|
|Balfour Shoal||Bofu Ansha||波洑暗沙 or
|Parry Shoal||Paibo Ansha||排波暗沙|
|Cawston Shoal||Guodian Ansha||果淀暗沙|
|Penguin Bank||Paihong Tan||排洪灘|
|Tancred Shoal||Taojing Ansha||濤靜暗沙|
|Combe Shoal||Kongpai Ansha||控湃暗沙|
|Cathy (Cathay) Shoal||Huaxia Ansha||華夏暗沙|
|Hardy Patches||Shitang Lianjiao||石塘連礁|
|Hand Shoal||Zhizhang Ansha||指掌暗沙|
|Margesson Shoal||Nanfei Ansha||南扉暗沙|
|Walker Shoal||Manbu Ansha||漫步暗沙|
|Phillip's Shoal||Lexi Ansha||樂西暗沙|
|Payne Shoal||Pingnan Ansha||屏南暗沙|
Definition of Zhongsha Islands
The China's term Zhongsha Islands for the Macclesfield Bank has a wider meaning than the geographic feature or atoll; it includes some geographically separate features: -
To the east, near the Philippines are:
- Scarborough Shoal (Nanyan Dao 南巖島 or Huangyan Dao 黃岩島; )
- Truro Shoal (Sianfa Ansha or Shianfa Ansha 特魯暗沙; )
Far to the north are:
- Helen Shoal (Itung Ansha or Yitong Ansha 一統暗沙; Hong Kong. ) - It is a few kilometers south of
- Stewart Shoal (Ssu-ti-wa-erh-t'e Ansha 管事暗灘; )
- Huangyan Seamount (黃岩海山)
- Shixing Seamount (石星海山)
- Xianbei Seamount (憲北海山)
- Xiannan Seamount (憲南海山)
- Zhangzhong Seamount (漲中海山)
- Zhenbei Seamount (珍貝海山)
To the south, near the Spratly Islands, are:
- Dreyer Shoal (Zhongnan Ansha, 中南暗沙)
- Zhongnan Seamount (中南海山)
- Longnan Seamount (龍南海山)
- Changlong Seamount (長龍海山)
Some sources state that the Philippines claims this underwater feature. However, Jose Zaide, a Philippine diplomat of ambassadorial rank, has written that the Philippines does not claim the Macclesfield Bank.
As the bank is entirely underwater, some scholars have raised questions regarding the legality of territorial claims upon it with regards to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- (Chinese) 民政部关于国务院批准设立地级三沙市的公告-中华人民共和国民政部
- List of data for various geographic features (2001), The Geological Society of America.
- "Vietnam Law on Contested Islands Draws China’s Ire". The New York Times. June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- "Taiwan renews sovereignty claim over South China Sea islands". Focus Taiwan. May 5, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- "Limits in the Seas - No. 127 Taiwan's Maritime Claims". United States Department of State. November 15, 2005. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
- "Philippines protests China’s moving in on Macclesfield Bank". Inquirer.net. July 6, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Zaide, Jose (July 10, 2012). "Saan Siya?". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Poling, Gregory (2012-07-05). "Time to End Strategic Ambiguity in the South China Sea". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
- Seoung-Yong Hong;Jon M. Van Dyke (2009). Maritime Boundary Disputes, Settlement Processes, and the Law of the Sea (Publications on Ocean Development). Brill. p. 149.
- Chi-kin Lo (1989). China's Policy Towards Territorial Disputes: The Case of the South China Sea Islands. Routledge. p. 25.
- Clive Ralph Symmons (1995). Some Problems Relating to the Definition of "insular Formations" in International Law: Islands and Low-tide Elevations. International Boundaries Research Unit. p. 12.