South China Sea – The Ongoing War

By Jack and Arush

South China Sea

South China Sea is a region of tremendous economics and geostrategic importance, one-third of the word’s maritime shipping passes through here ($3.37 trillion in 2016), 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. With this resource and opportunities to increase the economic, most countries started to claim part of the region in 1970. According to United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) nautical ruling,

The red lines are China claims

China has their legal sea border but China claimed the South China Sea with 9 lines on the map ( estimate 90% of the area), without any historic title.

Your task

Imagine you are one of the judge in the International Court of Justice and you have a task to decide what is the best way to cool down the tension between China and other countries.

You should be a fair judge because this can impact the economy of the world.

Important terminology

Archipelago: An archipelago is a group of islands closely scattered in a body of water.

Territorial sea: The 12-nautical mile territorial belt measured from the baseline of a coastal state. The baseline refers to the low water mark of the coast.

Island: A naturally formed landmass that’s above water at high tide and can sustain human habitation. An island generates a territorial sea and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

International Court of Justice: The International Court of Justice, which has its seat in The Hague, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations


The sea covers approximately 3,700,000 square km, bordered with the mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Within the South China Sea there are numerous coral reefs, atolls, and small islands. There are two big archipelagos Parcel islands, and Spratly Islands. Parcel Islands are under occupied of China, and Spratly Island are claimed by Taiwan, China, and Vietnam. The rest of the archipelago is clamed by Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

A map of the Paracel Islands
A map of the Spratly Islands

What China is doing to claim and control the islands

China was and still trying to claimed control over the islands to expand their EEZ. They built man-made island for military bases, put battleships to reinforce their power in the South China Sea.

Watch this VIDEO to have to better understanding about the importance of South China Sea.

China artificial island with landing strips
Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy shipmen

How other countries are fighting back

In in April, a Chinese coast guard vessel rammed and sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, luckily nobody got hurt. The sinking prompted a sharp rebuke from Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which lodged a formal diplomatic note of protest with the Chinese embassy in Hanoi.

 In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague issued its ruling on a claim brought against China by the Philippines under UNCLOS, ruling in favor of the Philippines on almost every count.

Credit given

South China Sea ruling. (n.d.). Reuters Graphic. Retrieved November 4, 2020, from

Westcott, B. (2016, July 12). Philippines vs China: Why the South China Sea ruling may change Asia. CNN.

Evers, J., & Sue, C. (2012, August 27). Archipelago. National Geographic.,erupting%20from%20the%20ocean%20floor.

Lee, Y. N. (2020, April 13). Beijing may be using the coronavirus pandemic to advance its interests in the disputed South China Sea. CNBC.

Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea. (n.d.). Global Conflict Tracker. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from

Joscelyn, T. (2020, April 10). Why China Sunk a Vietnamese Fishing Boat During the COVID-19 Pandemic. FDD.

Paracel islands picture. (n.d.). Alamy Stock Photo. Retrieved November 6, 2020, from

Jacvad Heydarian, R. (2019, November 29). Chinese NAVY. Asia Times.