Written by NHK World

China still continues to lay claim to the majority of the South China Sea, causing turmoil and disputes amongst other states bordering these waters. China’s boundaries encompass the economic zones of many other states, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. There is still no clear solution to the dispute over claims to the South China Sea. China has continually pushed for control over the vaguely marked https nine-dash-line, also referred to as the ten-dash-line.

China has pushed against opposition to their claims from smaller nations bordering the South China Sea. Now larger global powers such as the US and Russia are taking a stance in the matter. In 2016 the Philippines brought a case to an arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which ruled that China has no legal claim to the nine-dash-line region of the sea. Although this seemed like a significant achievement, China has refused to acknowledge this matter, and remains in a domination role over the South China Sea. Early in 2018 Viet Nam suspended their work in an oil drilling project due to Chinese pressure. Since then Russia and Viet Nam have been working together on gas development projects in attempts to reduce their dependence on China.

Although Russia has been working alongside Viet Nam, they have had to be careful about vocalizing their involvement to put as little strain on their relationship with China as possible. However, like the US, Russia would benefit to see these waters as an area of international cooperation or collaboration, because it would allow for the expansion of their oil refining expeditions.

The main attractions for countries bordering the South China Sea are the oil and natural gas reserves. However the more economically invested member states of the non-East Asian Bloc would prefer to see the body of water as an international Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), or at least see international cooperation between nations when dealing with trade, research and more.

These states have had many disputes over the ocean territory, while other nations, such as Japan and South Korea, have had to defend areas encompassed in their territorial zones. Despite the many disputes that have accumulated over time, international cooperation and definitive solutions are still lacking.

Potentially as the focus is aimed more towards the Arctic, these disputes will be met with new ones; see that many of the Northern nations are currently increasing attention towards the profitability of the arctic region.