Territorial disputes in the South China Sea
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve both island and maritime claims among seven sovereign states within the region, namely Brunei, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. There are disputes concerning both the Spratly and the Paracel islands, as well as maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin and elsewhere. There is a further dispute in the waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands. The interests of different nations include acquiring fishing areas around the two archipelagos; the potential exploitation of suspected crude oil and natural gas under the waters of various parts of the South China Sea; and the strategic control of important shipping lanes.
- 1 Specific disputes
- 2 Background
- 3 Timeline of events
- 4 U.S.-China Relations
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The disputes involve both maritime boundaries and islands. There are several disputes, each of which involved a different collection of countries:
- Maritime boundary along the Vietnamese coast between Vietnam, China, and Taiwan
- Maritime boundary in the waters north of the Natuna Islands between Indonesia, China, and Taiwan
- Maritime boundary north of Borneo between Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Brunei
- Islands in the southern reaches of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands between Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and China
- Maritime boundary off the coast of Palawan and Luzon between the Philippines, China, and Taiwan
- Islands in the northern reaches of the South China Sea, including the Paracel Islands between Vietnam, China, and Taiwan
- Maritime boundary in the Luzon Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan, including islands
- Land in eastern part of Sabah (formerly North Borneo) between Malaysia and the Philippines
- The nine-dash line area claimed by China which covers most of the South China sea and overlaps Exclusive Economic Zone claims of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam
The area is potentially rich in oil and natural gas deposits; however, the estimates are highly varied. The Ministry of Geological Resources and Mining of the People's Republic of China estimate that the South China Sea may contain 17.7 billion tons of crude oil (compared to Kuwait with 13 billion tons). In the years following the announcement by the ministry, the claims regarding the South China Sea islands intensified. However, other sources claim that the proven reserve of oil in the South China Sea may only be 7.5 billion barrels, or about 1.1 billion tons. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)'s profile of the South China Sea region, a U.S. Geological Survey estimate puts the region's discovered and undiscovered oil reserves at 28 billion barrels, as opposed to a Chinese figure of 213 billion barrels. The same EIA report also points to the wide variety of natural gas resource estimations, ranging from 900 trillion cubic feet (25.5 trillion cubic meters) to 2 quadrillion cubic feet (56.6 trillion cubic meters).
The South China Sea is dubbed by China as the "second Persian Sea." The state-owned China Offshore Exploration Corp. planned to spend 200 billion RMB (US$30 billion) in the next 20 years to exploit oil in the region, with the estimated production of 25 million metric tons of crude oil and natural gas per annum, at a depth of 2000 meters within the next five years.
On 11 March 1976, the first Philippine oil company discovered an oil field off Palawan, which is an island province bordering the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. These oil fields supply 15% of annual oil consumption in the Philippines.
The nine-dotted line was originally an "eleven-dotted-line," first indicated by the then Kuomintang government of the Republic of China in 1947, for its claims to the South China Sea. After, the Communist Party of China took over mainland China and formed the People's Republic of China in 1949. The line was adopted and revised to nine as endorsed by Zhou Enlai.
The legacy of the nine-dotted line is viewed by some Chinese government officials, and by the Chinese military, as providing historical support for their claims to the South China Sea.
In the 1970s, however, the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries began referring to the Spratly Islands as included in their own territory. On 11 June 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines issued Presidential decree No. 1596, declaring the Spratly Islands (referred to therein as the Kalayaan Island Group) as Philippine territory.
The abundant fishing opportunities within the region are another motivation for the claim. In 1988, the South China Sea is believed to have accounted for 8% of world fishing catches, a figure that has grown since then. There have been many clashes in the Philippines with foreign fishing vessels (including China) in disputed areas. China believes that the value in fishing and oil from the sea has risen to a trillion dollars.
The area is also one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. In the 1980s, at least 270 merchant ships used the route[clarification needed] each day. Currently, more than half the tonnage of oil transported by sea passes through it, a figure rising steadily with the growth of Chinese consumption of oil. This traffic is three times greater than that passing through the Suez Canal and five times more than the Panama Canal.
As of 1996[update], Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and other countries asserted claims within the Chinese nine-dotted line The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which came into effect on 16 November 1994, resulted in more intense territorial disputes between the parties.
Eight of the Spratly Islands are under Chinese control; Vietnamese troops control the greatest number of Spratly islands, 29. Eight islands are controlled by the Philippines, five by Malaysia, two by Brunei and one by Taiwan. The Indian Ambassador to Vietnam, while expressing concern over rising tension in the area, said that 50 per cent of its trade passes through the area and called for peaceful resolution of the disputes in accordance with international law.
On 20 July 2011, the PRC, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam agreed to a set of preliminary guidelines which would help resolve the dispute. The agreement was described by the PRC's assistant foreign minister, Liu Zhenmin, as "an important milestone document for cooperation among China and ASEAN countries". Some of the early drafts acknowledged aspects such as "marine environmental protection, scientific research, safety of navigation and communication, search and rescue and combating transnational crime," although the issue of oil and natural gas drilling remains unresolved.
On 22 July 2011, the INS Airavat, an Indian amphibious assault vessel on a friendly visit to Vietnam, was reportedly contacted 45 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast in the disputed South China Sea by a party identifying itself as the Chinese Navy and stating that the ship was entering Chinese waters. A spokesperson for the Indian Navy explained that as no ship or aircraft was visible, the INS Airavat proceeded on her onward journey as scheduled. The Indian Navy further clarified that "[t]here was no confrontation involving the INS Airavat. India supports freedom of navigation in international waters, including in the South China Sea, and the right of passage in accordance with accepted principles of international law. These principles should be respected by all."
In September 2011, shortly after China and Vietnam signed an agreement seeking to contain a dispute over the South China Sea, India's state-run explorer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) said that its overseas investment arm, ONGC Videsh Limited, had signed a three-year agreement with PetroVietnam for developing long-term cooperation in the oil sector, and that it had accepted Vietnam's offer of exploration in certain specified blocks in the South China Sea In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, without referring to India by name, stated as follows:
"China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea and the island. China's stand is based on historical facts and international law. China's sovereign rights and positions are formed in the course of history and this position has been held by Chinese Government for long. On the basis of this China is ready to engage in peaceful negotiations and friendly consultations to peacefully solve the disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights so as to positively contribute to peace and tranquillity in the South China Sea area. We hope that the relevant countries respect China's position and refrain from taking unilateral action to complicate and expand the issue. We hope they will respect and support countries in the region to solve the bilateral disputes through bilateral channels. As for oil and gas exploration activities, our consistent position is that we are opposed to any country engaging in oil and gas exploration and development activities in waters under China's jurisdiction. We hope the foreign countries do not get involved in South China Sea dispute."
An Indian foreign ministry spokesman responded, "The Chinese had concerns, but we are going by what the Vietnamese authorities have told us and [we] have conveyed this to the Chinese." The Indo-Vietnamese deal was also denounced by the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times.
In Spring 2010, Chinese officials reportedly communicated to U.S. officials that the South China Sea is "an area of 'core interest' that is as non-negotiable" and on par with Taiwan and Tibet on the national agenda. but may have backed away from that assertion in 2011.
In October 2011, China's Global Times newspaper, published by the Communist Party, People's Daily, editorialized on South China Sea territorial disputes under the banner "Don't take peaceful approach for granted". The article referenced recent incidents involving Philippines and South Korea detaining Chinese fishing boats in the region:
- "If these countries don't want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons. We need to be ready for that, as it may be the only way for the disputes in the sea to be resolved." Global Times (China), 25 October 2011 Responding to questions about whether this reflected official policy, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stated the country's commitment "to resolving the maritime dispute through peaceful means."
Vietnam and Japan reached an agreement early in 1978 on the development of oil in the South China Sea. As of 2012[update], Vietnam had concluded some 60 oil and gas exploration and production contracts with various foreign companies. In 1986, the "White Tiger" oil field in the South China Sea came into operation, producing over 2,000 tons of crude oil per year, followed by the "The Bear" and "Dragon" oil fields. As of 2011[update], Vietnam was the sixth-largest oil producer in the Asia-Pacific region although the country is now a net oil importer; in 2009 while petroleum accounted for 14 percent of government income, this was down from 24 percent in 2004.
China's first independently designed and constructed oil drilling platform in the South China Sea is the Ocean Oil 981 (海洋石油981). The major shareholders are J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (19.01%), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (14.05%), T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and affiliates (6.01%), and BlackRock, Inc. (5.37%). It began operation on 9 May 2012 in the South China Sea, 320 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of Hong Kong, at a depth of 1,500 m and employing 160 people. On 2 May 2014, the platform was moved near to the Paracel islands, a move Vietnam stated violated their territorial claims while Chinese officials said was legal as it falls within surrounding waters of the Paracel Islands which China militarily controls.
Ethnic minorities in the Philippines and Vietnam
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Various factions of the Muslim Moro people are waging a war for independence against the Philippines. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of Nur Misuari declared its support for China against the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute, calling both China and the Moro people as victims of Philippine colonialism, and noting China's history of friendly relation with the Sultanate of Sulu in the region. The MNLF also denounced America's assistance to the Philippines in their colonization of the Moro people in addition to denouncing the Philippines claims to the islands disputed with China, and denouncing America for siding with the Philippines in the dispute, noting that in 1988 China "punished" Vietnam for attempting to set up a military presence on the disputed islands, and noting that the Moros and China maintained peaceful relations, while on the other hand the Moros had to resist other colonial powers, having to fight the Spanish, fight the Americans, and fight the Japanese, in addition to fighting the Philippines.
Champa historically had a large presence in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese broke Champa's power in an invasion of Champa in 1471, and then finally conquered the last remnants of the Cham people in an invasion in 1832. A Cham named Katip Suma who received Islamic education in Kelantan declared a Jihad against the Vietnamese, and the fighting continued until the Vietnamese crushed the remnants of the resistance in 1835. The Cham organization Front de Libération du Champa was part of the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races, which waged war against the Vietnamese for independence in the Vietnam War along with the Montagnard and Khmer Krom minorities. The last remaining FULRO insurgents surrendered to the United Nations in 1992. Vietnam has settled over a million ethnic Vietnamese on Montagnard lands in the Central Highlands. The Montagnard staged a massive protest against the Vietnamese in 2001, which led to the Vietnamese to forcefully crush the uprising and seal the entire area off to foreigners.
The Vietnamese government fears that using the evidence of Champa's historical connection to the disputed islands in South China Sea would expose the human rights violations and killings of ethnic minorities in Vietnam such as in the 2001 and 2004 uprisings, and lead to the issue of Cham autonomy being brought to attention, since the Vietnamese conquered the Hindu and Muslim Cham people in a war in 1832, and the Vietnamese continue to destroy evidence of Cham culture and artifacts left behind, plundering or building on top of Cham temples, building farms over them, banning Cham religious practices, and omitting references to the destroyed Cham capital of Song Luy in the 1832 invasion in history books and tourist guides. The situation of Cham compared to the ethnic Vietnamese is substandard, lacking water and electricity and living in houses made out of mud.
Timeline of events
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3rd century BC
It has been claimed by the People's Republic of China that since 200 BC Chinese fishermen have used the Spratly islands.
- 1279 Chinese cultural relics in the Paracel islands dating from the Tang and Song dynasty eras indicate there is some evidence of Chinese habitation on the islands in these periods.
- 1816 – Vietnamese emperor Gia Long ordered a company to the Paracel Islands to make a survey and draw a map.
- 1835 – Vietnam erects a pagoda in the Paracel Islands
- 1876 – China makes its earliest documented claim to the Paracel Islands
- 1883 – When the Spratlys and Paracels were surveyed by Germany in 1883, China issued protests.
- 1884–1885 Sino-French War
- 1887 – In the 19th century, Europeans found that Chinese fishermen from Hainan annually visited the Spratly islands for part of the year, while in 1877 it was the British who launched the first modern legal claims to the Spratlys.
- 1887 – The Convention Respecting the Delimitation of the Frontier Between China and Tonkin between France and the Qing Empire set the maritime boundary in the Gulf of Tonkin. The 1887 Chinese-Vietnamese Boundary convention signed between France and China after the Sino-French War said that China was the owner of the Spratly and Paracel islands.
- 1898 – The Philippine Islands were ceded by Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris following the Spanish-American War
- 1902 - China sends naval forces on inspection tours of the Paracel Islands to preempt French claims.
- 1907 - China sends another naval force, this time to plan for resource exploitation.
- 1911 - The newly formed Republic of China, successor state to the Qing Dynasty, moves administration of the Paracel Islands to Hainan, which would not become a separate Chinese province until 1988.
- 1927 – Japan makes its earliest documented claim to the Paracel and Spratly Islands
- 1928 - The Republic of China states that the Paracel Islands are the southernmost limits of its territory
- 1931 – France claims the Paracel Islands
World War II
- 1939 – Japan occupies the islands and takes control of the South China Sea. The Spratlys and the Paracels were conquered by Japan in 1939. Japan administered the Spratlys via Taiwan's jurisdiction and the Paracels via Hainan's jurisdiction.
- 1946 – Republic of China sent warships to claim Itu Aba, the largest of the Spratly Islands and renamed it Taiping Island. The Paracels and Spratlys were handed over to Republic of China control from Japan after the 1945 surrender of Japan, since the Allied powers assigned the Republic of China to receive Japanese surrenders in that area. After WW2 ended, the Republic of China was the "most active claimaint". The Republic of China then garrisoned Itu Aba (Taiping) island in 1946 and posted Chinese flags and markers on it along with Woody island in the Paracels, France tried, but failed to make them leave Woody island. The aim of the Republic of China was to block the French claims. The Republic of China drew up The Southern China Sea Islands Location Map, marking the national boundaries in the sea with 11 lines, showing the U shaped claim on the entire South China Sea, and showing the Spratly and Paracels in Chinese territory, in 1947. Later in 1953 the People's Republic of China published the map with 9 lines remained.
- 1950 – After pulling out its garrison in 1950 when the Republic of China evacuated to Taiwan, when the Filipino Tomas Cloma uprooted an ROC flag on Itu Aba laid claim to the Spratlys and, the Republic of China (now Taiwan) again regarrisoned Itu Aba on 1956. In 1946, the Americans reminded the Philippines at its independence that the Spratlys was not Philippine territory, both to not anger Chiang Kai-shek in China and because the Spratlys were not part of the Philippines per the 1898 treaty Spain signed with America. Taiwan's garrison from 1946-1950 and 1956-now on Itu Aba represent the first "effective occuption" of the Spratlys out of all the current countries claiming the islands.
- 1952 – Japan renounced any claims of sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos in accordance with Article 2 Clause (f) of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, but no beneficiary was designated.
- 1954 – French claims to the Paracel Islands transferred to Vietnam
- 1956 – North Vietnam declares Paracel and Spratly Islands are historically Chinese territory.
- 14 September 1958 – North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong sent Premier Zhou Enlai a formal diplomatic correspondence about the issue. Regarding this letter, there have been many arguments on its true meaning and the reason why Phạm Văn Đồng decided to send it to Zhou Enlai.
- 1970 – China occupies Amphitrite Group of the Paracel Islands
- 1971 – Philippines announces claim to islands adjacent to its territory in the Spratleys, which they named Kalayaan, which was formally incorporated into Palawan Province in 1972. The Philippines President Marcos announced the claims after Taiwanese troops attacked and shot at a Philippine fishing boat on Itu Aba.
- 1974 – China ousts South Vietnamese forces from the Crescent Group of the Paracel Islands
- 14 February 1975 – the newly unified Vietnamese government restated their long standing claims to the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos.
- February 1992 – China passes a law declaring the entire South China Sea as its territory, triggering protests from around the region
- 1997 – Philippines begins to challenge Chinese sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal.
- 1999 – Under President Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan stated that "legally, historically, geographically, or in reality", all of the South China Sea and Spratly islands were Taiwan's territory and under Taiwanese sovereignty, and denounced actions undertaken there by Malaysia and the Philippines, in a statement on 13 July 1999 released by the foreign ministry of Taiwan. Taiwan and China's claims "mirrors" each other. During international talks involving the Spratly islands, China and Taiwan have cooperated with each other since both have the same claims.
- 9 May 1999 – The day after the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Philippine navy sent BRP Sierra Madre and ran her aground on Second Thomas Shoal. China issued official protest afterward. Philippine refused to withdraw the ship. Since then China deploys subservience ships to the corresponding water regularly.
- 1 April, Hainan Island incident
- ASEAN and China agree to a code of conduct in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea
- 8 January – Chinese ships fired upon two Vietnamese fishing boats from Thanh Hoa province, killing 9 people and detaining one ship with 8 people on Hainan Island. Chinese Foreign Ministry claim they were pirates that opened fire first and obtained confession from the arrested members.
- March 2009 – The Pentagon reported that Chinese ships harassed U.S. surveillance ship. According to the report, five Chinese vessels "shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity to USNS Impeccable, in an apparent coordinated effort to harass the U.S. ocean surveillance ship while it was conducting routine operations in international waters." The crew members aboard the vessels, two of which were within 50 feet, waved Chinese flags and told the U.S. ship to leave the area, the statement said.
- 13 May 2009 – The deadline for states to make seabed hydrocarbon claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This is suspected to have caused ancient island claims to surface and become inflamed.
- 25 February – The Chinese frigate Dongguan fired three shots at Philippine fishing boats in the vicinity of Jackson atoll. The shots were fired after the frigate instructed the fishing boats to leave, and one of those boats experienced trouble removing its anchor.
- 26 May – The clash involved the Vietnamese Binh Minh 02 oil and gas survey ship and three Chinese maritime patrol vessels occurred 120 km (80 miles) off the south-central coast of Vietnam and some 600 km south of China's Hainan island. Vietnam says the Chinese boats deliberately cut the survey ship's cables in Vietnamese waters. China denies the allegation. The event stirred up unprecedented anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.
- 9 June – A Norwegian-flagged seismic conducting ship hired by Vietnam Oil & Gas Corporation (PetroVietnam) clashed with another three Chinese fishery patrol vessels within Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone. Vietnam once again claimed its exploration cables were deliberately cut.
|“||"China's systematic action is aimed at turning the undisputed area belonging to Vietnam into an area under dispute in order to materialize China's nine-dotted line claim in the East Sea. This is unacceptable"||”|
—Vietnamese spokeswoman Pham Phuong Nga, following the June 9th incident
- 10 October – Vietnam and China agree to a new set of principles on settling maritime disputes
- November – Former Malysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said that China was not a threat to anyone and was not worried about aggression from China, accusing the United States of provoking China and trying to turn China's neighbors against China. Mahathir believes Malaysia could profit from China's economic growth through cooperation with China.
- April – The Philippine warship Gregorio del Pilar was involved in a standoff with two Chinese surveillance vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, an area claimed by both nations. The Philippine navy had been trying to arrest Chinese fishermen who were allegedly taking government-protected marine species from the area, but the surveillance boats prevented them. On 14 April 2012, U.S. and the Philippines held their yearly exercises in Palawan, Philippines. On 16 April 2012, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged a Philippine archaeological ship to immediately leave the waters of the Scarborough Shoal, which China claims is an "integral part of its territory." On 7 May 2012, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying called a meeting with Alex Chua, Charge D'affaires of the Philippine Embassy in China, to make a serious representation over the current incident at the Scarborough Shoal. China also warned its nationals against travel to the Philippines and raised trade barriers on imported pineapples and bananas. On 16 May 2012, a fishing ban in the Scarborough Shoal by the governments of China and the Philippines became effective. By mid June 2012, both nations had withdrawn their vessels from the waters around the disputed Shoal due to the arrival of the typhoon season. By July 2012, China had erected a barrier to the entrance of the shoal, and that vessels belonging to Beijing's China Marine Surveillance and Fisheries Law Enforcement Command were observed nearby the disputed shoal; as of December 2012[update], Chinese government ships remain around the shoal and have been turning away Filipino vessels; additionally, China has stated it would interdict, and board, any foreign vessel that entered waters it claimed. China later clarified that it would only conduct interdiction, and boarding, vessels within 12 nautical miles for which China has announced baselines.
- May – Taiwan rejected a pan-Chinese approach of coordinating with the PRC in asserting claims to the South China Sea.
- June – Indian Navy vessels sailing in the South China Sea received an unscheduled escort by a People's Liberation Army Navy frigate for 12 hours.
- 11 July – a Jianghu-V type frigate of the PLA Navy, 560 Dongguan, ran aground on Hasa Hasa Shoal just 60 nmi west of Rizal, well within the Philippines' 200 nmi-EEZ. By 15 July the ship had been refloated and was returning to port with no injuries and only minor damage. The 2012 ASEAN summit was taking place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at the same time, where the mood was already tense over the escalating aggression in the region.
- July – The National Assembly of Vietnam passed a law demarcating Vietnamese sea borders to include the Spratly and Paracel islands.
- July – Citing reports from diplomats on-hand, Reuters wrote that Cambodia "batted away repeated attempts to raise the issue about the disputed waters during the ASEAN Meeting last week as well as the ASEAN Regional Forum."
- 22 July – The Central Military Commission (China) decided to establish the Sansha garrison. The move was criticized by the Philippines and Vietnam. China responded by calling in a senior U.S. diplomat and reiterating their "absolute sovereignty" over the region.
- 1 September – Taiwan performed live fire military exercises on Taiping island on September 2012, reports said that Vietnam was explicitly named by the Taiwanese military as the "imaginary enemy" in the drill. Vietnam protested against the exercises as violation of its territory and "voiced anger", demanding that Taiwan stop the drill. Taiwan rejected Vietnam's protests, and Taiwan's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs declared that "Taiping Island is part of the Republic of China's territory....We have noted Vietnam's dissatisfaction over the drill...No one has the right to protest over Taiwan's exercise of its sovereign rights there", while China voiced its approval and support of Taiwan's military drill on the island. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said, "Our sovereignty over the island is undisputable and all of our activities and deployments on the island are legal and will never cause regional tensions." in response to Vietnamese claims on the island. Among the inspectors of the live fire drill were Taiwanese national legislators, adding to the tensions.
- 5 September – Philippine president Aquino promulgated Administrative Order No. 29, naming maritime areas on the western side of the Philippine archipelago as the West Philippine Sea. The order declares that the Philippines exercises "sovereign jurisdiction" in its exclusive economic zone, an area declared by Presidential Decree No. 1599 of 11 June 1978 to extend to a distance of two hundred nautical miles beyond and from the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured. The Philippine Baselines are defined by Republic Act No. 3046, as amended. Official PRC media responded that this was a "fond dream".
- 23 September – China launched a program to increase the number of UAVs monitoring the Scarborough Shoal, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and East China Sea, which follows a national marine zoning program approved by the State Council during the previous year as a part of China's 12th five year plan.
- December – In an interview with the Times of India, Philippines Vice President Binay welcomed the statement made by Indian Navy Admiral Joshi who stated that the Indian Navy is prepared to operate in the South China Sea.
- March - Malaysia displayed no concern over China conducting a military exercise at James Shoal on March 2013.
- August - Malaysia suggested that it might work with China over their South China Sea claims and ignore the other claimants, with Malaysian Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein saying that Malaysia had no problem with China patrolling the South China Sea, and telling ASEAN, America, and Japan that "Just because you have enemies, doesn’t mean your enemies are my enemies."
- 10 January - China imposes a "fishing permit" rule in the South China Sea, over the objections of the United States, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
- 11 March - Two Philippine ships are expelled by the Chinese Coast Guard from Ayungin Shoal in the Spratly group of islands.
- 30 March - The Republic of the Philippines files a case to an international tribunal in The Hague in its case against China over competing South China Sea claims.
- 2 May - Vietnamese naval ships and Chinese vessels collide in the South China Sea. The incident occurred as China set up an oil rig in an area to which both nations lay claim. On 26 May, a Vietnamese fishing boat sank near the oil rig, after colliding with a Chinese vessel. As both sides imputed the blame to each other, Vietnam released video footage a week later, showing the Vietnamese boat being rammed by the Chinese vessel before sinking. Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders expressed "serious concerns" over the tensions, calling for self-restraint and peaceful acts from both sides. Many observers observed that this marked a change in tone by ASEAN members, who had previously avoided a collision of their economic interests with China.
- 19 August - American Boeing P-8 Poseidon of VP-5 harassed by Chinese Shenyang J-11. Zhang Zhaozhong calls on Chinese fighters to "fly even closer to U.S. surveillance aircraft".
Taiwan (The Republic of China)
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- 1954–55 – First Taiwan Strait Crisis
- 1956 – Taiwan's navy has dispatched the prestige fleet, the Weiyuan fleet and the Ning fleet to patrol the Spratly Islands.Cruise process, in the Pacific Island, South Island, West Tsukishima heavy tree monument, held a flag raising ceremony, and adapted for the "Nansha garrison" reassignment Marines to protect Pacific Island
- 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis
- 1975 – the Taiwan authorities claim the only legitimate sovereign of the Spratly. For the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, successively seized the Spratly Islands.
- 28 January 2000 – The establishment of the Coast Guard Administration to take over the Pacific Island
- 1956 to 1971 – South Vietnamese forces upheld their claims of ownership over the The Spratly Islands with occasional ship visits to the waters around the islands.
The People's Republic of China
- 1974 – After the outbreak of the Paracel Islands naval battle with Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Paracel Islands were placed under the jurisdiction of Hainan.
- 1988 – Johnson South Reef Skirmish with Vietnam, China took seven Spratly Islands.
- 1997 – China reaffirmed the U-shaped area in the South China Sea as Chinese territorial waters and Chinese sovereignty over of all reefs within the area.
- 2012 – Handover of political leadership in China leads to a greater assertiveness in pressing territorial claims. China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) estimated that extracting from South China sea could double China's oil and gas reserves.
The United States and China are currently in disagreement over the U.S.'s policy of operating military ships and planes in the South China Sea. This disagreement is exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. is not a member of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Nevertheless, the U.S. has stood by its maneuvers, claiming that "peaceful surveillance activities and other military activities without permission in a country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," is allowed under the convention. Additionally, a South China Sea free to access is in the U.S.'s economic and geopolitical interests. Although the U.S. is not a party to the dispute, should China achieve exclusive rights to the sea, the U.S. will have to base access to the waterways on the willingness of permission of China, not UNCLOS. Given U.S. desire to maintain its position as a top Asia-Pacific power, succumbing to Chinese pressure is an undesirable position. In relation to the dispute, Secretary Clinton voiced her support for fair access by reiterating that "freedom of navigation and respect of international law" is a matter of national interest to the United States. Her comments were countered by China's Foreign Minister as "in effect an attack on China," and warned the United States against making the South China Sea "an international issue or multilateral issue."
Clinton subsequently testified in support of congressional approval of the Law of the Sea Convention, which would strengthen U.S. ability to support countries that oppose Chinese claims to certain islands in the area. On 29 May 2012, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed concern over this development, stating that "non-claimant Association of South East Asian Nations countries and countries outside the region have adopted a position of not getting involved into territorial disputes." In July 2012, the United States Senate passed resolution 524, initially sponsored by Senator John Kerry, stating (among other things) the United States' strong support for the 2002 declaration of conduct of parties in the South China Sea, reaffirms the United States' commitment to assist the nations of Southeast Asia to remain strong and independent, and supports enhanced operations by the United States armed forces in the Western Pacific.
In 2014, the United States responded to China's claims over the fishing grounds of other nations by saying that "China has not offered any explanation or basis under international law for these extensive maritime claims." USN CNO Jonathan Greenert then pledged American support to the Philippines in its territorial conflicts with the PRC. The Chinese Foreign Ministry asked the United States to maintain a neutral position on the issue.
- Scarborough Shoal standoff
- Battle of the Paracel Islands
- First island chain
- Freedom of navigation
- Johnson South Reef Skirmish
- South China Sea Islands
- Spratly Islands dispute
- Territorial disputes in the East China Sea
- Natuna Islands
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