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Debate over South China Sea Continues

Saturday, November, 21, 2015

In mid-November, the Chinese vice foreign minister reiterated the country’s intention to not participate in the proceedings or access the arbitration ruling concerning the South China Sea. China is claiming sovereignty over nearly all of the body of water, which is something that is opposed by Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia. The debate concerns a swath of territory in the South China Sea that contains the Spratly Islands, a series of a few 750 small, mostly uninhabited spits of land.


A ruling released recently by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague determined it had jurisdiction regarding seven issues raised by Manila in a 4000-page document submitted last year. A spokesman from the Chinese Foreign Office said the United States ship patrolling the South China Sea is counterproductive. The country believes the presence of the ship could jeopardize stability in the region.


China has stated it respects navigational rights, but that there has never been a discussion or decision made concerning the legal status of maritime claims in the sea. In late November, European and Asian officials will gather in Luxembourg at an annual event that bring together many Asian and Pacific nations and this matter will be discussed.


China officials have already stated the country will take all necessary steps to defend their sovereignty and maritime rights, including flying, sailing, and operating wherever global law permits. The United States’ recent move into the South China Sea is a major news story in China and in response, the country conducted training for its naval jets in the same area.