South China Sea dispute Current Affairs

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South China Sea Dispute: China launches Research Project to Compile Data on Disputed Region

China has launched a research project aimed at compiling historical data obtained during earlier expeditions conducted by its teams to the disputed South China Sea since the late 1950s.

Salient Highlights

The research project is one among the 14 resource investigation programmes approved by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Under the project, Chinese researchers will collect and compile valuable data and materials which were obtained by China during its major ocean expeditions to the South China Sea and its affiliated islands and reefs. China expects that a comparative analysis and research done into the data will offer insight into the resources, environment and changes related to the South China Sea and its affiliated islands and reefs.

Around 193 scholars with specialisation in fields such as marine life, ecology, fishery and geology from China’s 10 domestic research institutions and universities will take part in the initiative. Retired expedition members would also be invited to assist in this programme to ensure the reliability and precision of the data.

South China Sea Dispute

China has been aggressively claiming the entire South China Sea as its own. The other countries that claim the various territories in the South China Sea are Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
The South China Sea is part of Pacific Ocean spreading an area of some 35 lakh square km with eight littoral countries/territories viz. China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam. It is strategically located in the international shipping route that sees the passage of world’s half of the merchant ships. The sea is rich in energy reserves including petroleum, mineral and fishing resources. It is made of some 200 tiny islands, coral reefs, shoals, sandbanks etc. grouped into three archipelagos of Spratlys, Paracels and Pratas. The Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal are also part of South China Sea. Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Such disputes have been regarded as Asia’s most potentially dangerous point of conflict.

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China, ASEAN Countries Agree on Framework for South China Sea Code of Conduct

China and the 10 member of the ASEAN grouping have agreed to a framework of a legally binding code of conduct aimed at preventing disputes in the strategic South China Sea. Though the draft of the framework has been finalised, no details about the text of the framework agreement has been released. Also, no date has been given on which the full code of conduct is set to be adopted by the parties. However, all the parties have agreed to continue to constructively advance the negotiations and work towards the early conclusion of the code of conduct.

Background

China and the ASEAN members had committed to sign a code of conduct around 15 years ago. But the pace of the negotiations was slow as China claimed the South China in its entirety. ASEAN members like Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also maintain claims in the South China Sea. In the absence of the code of conduct, each country followed a separate document called the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which has a provision committing parties to explore ways to build trust and confidence based on the principles of equality and mutual respect. Last year, China was enraged by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague, the Netherlands, which in its ruling has rejected China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of South China Sea in a case brought by the Philippines.

10 ASEAN Members: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

South China Sea

South China Sea is part of Pacific Ocean spreading an area of some 35 lakh square km with eight littoral countries / territories viz. China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam. It is strategically located in the international shipping route that sees the passage of world’s half of the merchant ships. The sea is rich in energy reserves including petroleum, mineral and fishing resources. It is made of some 200 tiny islands, coral reefs, shoals, sandbanks etc. grouped into three archipelagos of Spratlys, Paracels and Pratas. The Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal are also part of South China Sea. Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Such disputes have been regarded as Asia’s most potentially dangerous point of conflict.

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China to set up International Maritime Judicial Centre

China’s Supreme Court has decided to set up its own International Maritime Judicial Centre (IMJC) to handle territorial disputes and protect its sea rights.

It was announced by China’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Zhou Qiang at the annual meeting of the national legislature National People’s Congress (NPC).

This move will help China to bolster its claims in the disputed South and East China seas and also help it become a maritime power.

Background

  • Presently China is locked in disputes with its neighbours over claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.
  • The tensions have risen recently over China’s aggressive land reclamation continues to build artificial islands, airport runways and facilities on disputed reefs.
  • Usually International maritime disputes between countries are usually brought before the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).
  • Earlier Philippines had filed an arbitration case against China over their competing claims in the South China Sea. But China has refused to participate.
For more details: South China Sea Dispute

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