Spratly Islands Dispute

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Due to Spratlys’ potential in terms of prosperity in resources, many countries are interested in claiming its ownership, namely Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, China, and Philippines. The Spratlys are located in the South China Sea between these countires. There are a number of reasons why the neighboring countries want to own the islands. Firstly, it is a great source of oil. It is estimated that the Spratly holds even greater natural gas reserves compared to Kuwait and is the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. From this, China’s motive could be seen since they have inadequate oil refinery and extraction capabilities. On the other hand, Brunei, being already a main producer of oil, has a different focus which will be discussed next. Second are the resources available for commercial fishing since coral reefs are the predominant structures of these islands. It is considered as one of the world’s most productive areas for commercial fishing. Owning these rich resources of marine life would lead to sustained economic growth. Lastly, the waters surrounding the Spratlys are one of the busiest shipping lanes of the world. Since Vietnam is dependent on sea route on South China Sea, owning the islands would give them a secure sea route. Now, the real question is “Who is the RIGHTFUL owner of the Spratly Islands?” Well, as a Filipino, I believe that the Philippines rightfully owns the Spratlys and today, I would prove our country’s ownership over the islands.
The Philippines’ claim could be based on Res Nullius which means “nobody’s property”. It means that any uninhabited or abandoned island belongs to the discoverer. There was no sovereignty over the islands until 1930s when France, then Japan acquired the islands. However, Japan renounced their ownership as stated in the San Francisco Treaty in 1951. Since then, the island became Res Nullius and available for occupation. Later in 1956, Tomas Cloma, a Filipino, independently declared a state on the islands,

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