Case of Spratly Island

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  • Topic: Spratly Islands, South China Sea, Paracel Islands
  • Pages : 11 (3618 words )
  • Download(s) : 442
  • Published : March 7, 2011
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CASE BACKGROUND
1. Abstract
The Spratly Islands of the South China Sea are a potential tinder box in the region. Approximately 44 of the 51 small islands and reefs are claimed or occupied by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. The conflict is the result of overlapping sovereignty claims to various Spratly Islands thought to possess substantial natural resources -- chiefly oil, natural gas, and seafood. Disputes have been propelled by an aggressive China, eager to meet growing energy demands that outstrip its supply capability. Overlapping claims resulted in several military incidents since 1974 and in several countries awarding foreign companies exploration rights in the same area of the South China Sea. Regional nation-states not directly involved in the Spratly disputes became concerned about regional stability and established a regional forum to discuss the peaceful resolution of the disputes. Sovereignty and exploration disputes were thought to be resolved with the drafting of ASEAN's 1992 declaration which committed members to resolve disputes peacefully and to consider joint exploration of the territory. Military aggression and exploration endeavors conducted by China since 1992, however, have brought into question the validity of the 1992 joint declaration and raises the question of what long-term, peaceful solution could prevent the region from erupting into a continuum of military incidents over sovereignty rights to the natural resource-rich Spratly Islands. 2. Description

The Spratly Islands of the South China Sea are a potential tinder box in the region. Approximately 44 of the 51 small islands and reefs are claimed or occupied by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. The conflict is the result of overlapping sovereignty claims to various Spratly Islands thought to possess substantial natural resources --chiefly oil, natural gas, and seafood. Disputes have been propelled by an aggressive China, eager to meet growing energy demands that outstrip its supply capability. Overlapping claims resulted in several military incidents since 1974 and in several countries awarding foreign companies exploration rights in the same area of the South China Sea. Regional nation-states not directly involved in the Spratly disputes became concerned about regional stability and established a regional forum to discuss the peaceful resolution of the disputes. Sovereignty and exploration disputes were thought to be resolved with the drafting of ASEAN's 1992 declaration which committed members to resolve disputes peacefully and to consider joint exploration of the territory. Military aggression and exploration endeavors conducted by China since 1992, however, have brought into question the validity of the 1992 joint declaration and raises the question of what long-term, peaceful solution could prevent the region from erupting into a continuum of military incidents over sovereignty rights to the natural resource-rich Spratly Islands. Claims to various islands of the archipelago began in the 1930s. Since the 1950s, the involved claimants have developed 29 oil fields and 4 gas fields in the Spratly region.(1) China's rising energy demands, decreasing ability to meet demand growth with domestic energy sources, and continued reliance on oil have propelled China to look to alternative energy sources -- in particular the relatively untapped South China Sea in general, and the Spratly Islands in particular. Location

The Spratly Islands consist of 100 - 230 islets, coral reefs and sea mounts (tablemounts).(4) Despite the fact that the archipelago is spread over 250,000 sq km of sea space, the total land mass of the Spratly Islands is a mere 5 sq km. The land is not arable, does not support permanent crops, and has no meadows, pastures or forests.(5) Furthermore, the Spratly Islands have not been occupied by humans until recently. Countries with territorial claims use military means...
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