Last updated on September 12th, 2023 at 09:37 pm
The immense body of water known as the South China Sea, which divides Southeast Asia in two, has long been the scene of territorial conflicts, diplomatic tensions, and geopolitical chess play. These conflicts have gotten worse recently, turning the area into a hotbed of conflict.
China’s territorial claims, a broad assertion of sovereignty that has aroused the ire of neighboring countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei, are at the center of this complex issue.
A UN panel decided unanimously in favor of the Philippines in its dispute against China‘s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
But, here are 5 times that China has started maritime conflict in the South China Sea:
March 2012: China’s Detention of Vietnamese Fishermen
China apprehended 21 Vietnamese fishermen in the Paracel Islands in March 2012 on the grounds that they were illegally fishing in Chinese territorial waters. The fishermen were held in Vietnamese waters, according to Vietnam, which also claims ownership of the islands. The tensions over territorial issues in the region significantly increased as a result of this episode.
April 2014: The Mischief Reef Island-Building
Satellite images in April 2014 revealed a stunning transformation of Mischief Reef. Chinese vessels were busy dredging sand and transforming the submerged reef into an island. Over a few weeks, the island expanded significantly, accompanied by military activities, raising concerns about China’s territorial ambitions.
May 2014: China’s Oil Rig Deployment Near Paracel Islands
Vietnam and China’s relations were strained as a result of China’s installation of an oil rig close to the Paracel Islands. The territorial issue was made worse by this action, which was taken to investigate prospective energy reserves.
Vietnam experienced an upsurge in anti-Chinese demonstrations that hurt Chinese-related enterprises.
May 2016: Unsafe Interception of a US Surveillance Aircraft
An incident that occurred in May 2016 highlighted the aerial dimensions of this complex battle. A US Navy surveillance plane was intercepted by two Chinese fighter jets over the East China Sea, one of which was dangerously near to the American aircraft.
The heated exchange raised awareness of the dangers associated with encounters in the area. China defended the actions of its pilots as “legal and professional,” underscoring the difficulty of controlling regional airspace.
July 2016: China’s media campaign to discredits the validity of any ruling from the Philippines case
China’s broad claims in the South China Sea were severely weakened by an international tribunal at The Hague, which largely supported the Philippines’ claims. The decision called into question China’s “nine-dash line” and increased international pressure on Beijing to curtail its military buildup in the area.
In a crucial international legal battle involving crucial reefs and atolls that Beijing believes would give it dominion over disputed South China Sea waters, China has said that it will not accept a decision that goes against it.
(Bonus!) August 2023: Chinese Coast Guard uses water cannon to block a Philippine military supply boat from delivering food, fuel and water to troops
China and the Philippines are at odds once more, as Manila accuses Beijing of deploying water cannons to prevent a Philippine military supply boat from delivering food, fuel, and water to troops stationed on a decommissioned warship trapped on a shoal in the South China Sea.
The long-running territorial dispute in the resource-rich waters that flared up over the weekend in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei.
Conflict in the South China Sea continues to be of concern on a regional and international level. Tensions remain high as governments contend with competing territorial claims and manage the South China Sea’s intricate geopolitics.