Chinese and Filipino ships have clashed in the hotly contested South China Sea

what is going on?

The South China Sea is an area of ​​strategic importance. Although there are only atolls and reefs that barely rise above the sea level and are barely habitable, the sea is rich in oil and raw materials. Many important trade routes also pass through it.

China has been creating islands in the region for years by collecting and expanding atolls and coral reefs. It places military equipment there and builds small army bases. Thus, the Chinese can claim and exploit undersea mineral resources without hindrance. It goes completely against the wishes of the surrounding countries who also claim (some of) the islands.

Since the 1990s, China has increasingly taken control of almost the entire sea. It does so on the basis of a map from 1947. Other countries in the region, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia, reject China’s claim to the region. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague also ruled against the Chinese claim in 2016. However, Beijing does not care much about this matter.

What appears at first glance to be a regional conflict has much greater significance. The United States is not officially involved in the conflict, but has had a military presence in the region since 1945, and has concluded additional military agreements with its allies in the region in recent years. In April, the United States announced that it would defend the Philippines against “any attack” in the South China Sea, including against China.

The United States essentially wants to prevent the entire maritime area from falling under Chinese control, which would mean that freedom of passage on this important route can no longer be guaranteed.

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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