The Island and Maritime Disputes in the South China Sea

Part of the The Political Economy of the Asia Pacific book series (PEAP)


The South China Sea, which stretches from the Karimata Strait between the Islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia to the Strait of Taiwan, encompasses hundreds of rocks, reefs, and small islands. The majority of them are located in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos (See Map 6.1). The question of who owns these islands has become one of the most fundamental barriers to closer interstate relations in the region, particularly since potentially huge oil and gas deposits were found in the area in the late 1960s.1 By the 1980s, seven East Asian countries became involved in disputes over the territory, and all of the claimants – except for Brunei and Indonesia – have established some kind of physical presence on at least one of those islands. Currently, Vietnam occupies more than twenty islands and reefs, China eight, Taiwan one, the Philippines eight, and Malaysia one (Lo 1989; Manning 2000; Burgess 2003; Tønnesson 2003).2


Offshore Island Spratly Island Island Dispute Central Military Commission Khmer Rouge Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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