• A whooping 5.3 Trillion USD trade is passing through the South China Sea it every year.
  • More than 60% of global maritime trade and more than 22% of total global trade passes through this waterbody.
  • One third of the global shipping passes through this sea every year.
  • 40% of the global petroleum products passes through it.
  • Over 65% of total trade of China & over 42% of total trade of Japan passes through SCS every year.
  • Lifeline of at least 10 of the major countries is dependent upon SCS.

As per the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), the territorial boundaries of a country are 12 Nautical miles from its coast and the further 12 Nautical Miles is the area of Contiguous waters. All the nations follow this rule strictly except China. China presents its own view. It says that the entire sea is the extension of the continental shelf of China, it has been under control of China 2000 years ago and China has been controlling the trade in this region in ancient times. Thus, the sea belongs to China.

China proposed its “Nine Dash Line” incorporating even territorial waters of Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. All these claims are made on the basis that the sea was the “Ancestral Property” of China which has been passing from one generation to another. This is resulting in Chinese claims on over 80% of South China Sea.

Since SCS connects Pacific Ocean with Indian Ocean, it is an important transit lane and anyone controlling it will invariably have control over the maritime trade of the world. China wants the same and that’s why it has occupied Spratley Islands, Paracel Islands, Mischief Reef, Subi Reef & Scarborough Shoal.

Economic Potential

Economically, SCS holds greater importance. This region holds nearly one third of world’s entire biodiversity. Being in nutrient rich tropical waters, it has highest density of seafood. More than 15% of the entire world’s fisheries are in this region. Apart from this, there is an expected presence of over 220 Billion Barrel of Oil reserves and massive gas & other hydrocarbon reserves are surveyed in this region. Further, SCS has highest untapped reserves of rare earth metals which are essential in today’s technology. China wants to claim all these resources & hence claiming a control over this Sea.

Since China wants absolute control over these waters it is occupying the small islands as mentioned before. If these islands are made a military base with Missiles & other standoff weapons, the waters become totally impregnable for any navy of the world. In addition to denying entry to any force, China will also be able to exercise its control over all the countries located in the zone forcefully.

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