Waterways have been a source of dispute for a long, long time. Many disputes arise when it comes to the use of regional seas. Such disputes include who has the right to use a given waterway, what kinds of trade are allowed and how far out each nation can govern from the shore. These disputes can impact many areas of use. An argument over a certain waterway may have all sorts of implications on varied areas from international trade to the right to fish and even to declare the area open for recreational opportunities. Such is the case with many area surrounding the nation of China. China is one of world’s largest nations as well as one of it’s most populous. Successive Chinese governments have argued over the use of waterways surrounding the area for centuries. They still continue to do so today. One of the many areas disputed by the Chinese government is that of South China Sea. The South China Sea is a hugely important waterway that many nations use.
The South China Sea is one of the world’s most important international waters. Many communities and nations use this part of the world for a wide variety of purposes. In any given time frame, ships from all part of the globe may be crossing this area with important cargo. Over time, efforts have been made to try and officially codify who can use this sea and how they can use it. These efforts have been enshrined into international law. While such efforts have largely been successful, acrimony still exists between the region’s major powers. China, Japan and South Korea continue to argue with each other and with the international community about their power in the area and just how far their governance of this sea extends.
Chinese Control of the South China Sea
Despite agreeing to many aspects of treaties designed to make sure all people in the area have access to the South China Sea equally, Chinese officials have repeatedly asserted their alleged right to control even more of this area. As early as the 1970’s, Chinese officials began asserting more control of the South China Sea. Part of the reason that Chinese seek such control is the fact that the region contains many untapped resources. There are said to be billions of gallons of oil and natural gas here as well as vast seas full of fish. In order to assert control, the Chinese have used many methods consider inappropriate by the international community.
Exclusive Economic Zone
The Chinese claim an exclusive economic zone in this area. They claim full sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. They also been claiming the right to control certain islands in the area as well as the right to build entirely new islands. Chinese officials have actually taken to piling sand on the region’s existing reefs. They have also built up many other areas in the sea and built ports, airstrips and even military installations to spy on other nations. Woody Island, a tiny parcel of land in the middle of the sea, is now home to the Chinese military and the location of troops, radar and even fighter jets and cruise missiles. Such activities have vastly alarmed their neighbors. Japanese officials believe that the Chinese are attempting to take more than their fair share of the region’s natural gas and oil reserves. South Koreans also believe that the Chinese have unfairly claimed Socotra Rock and have further territorial designs on the entire region in the long-term. Demonstrations have broken out against Chinese actions in many other nations including both South Korea and Japan.