A Comprehensive look at the South/East China Sea Disputes
By Wrabbit2000 of ATS.
Overview of the South China Sea
. . .The sea is rich in resources and holds significant strategic and political importance.
The area includes several hundred small islands, rocks, and reefs, with the majority located in the Paracel and Spratly Island chains. Many of these islands are partially submerged land masses unsuitable for habitation and are little more than shipping hazards. For example, the total land area of the Spratly Islands encompasses less than 3 square miles.
Several of the countries bordering the sea declare ownership of the islands to claim the surrounding sea and its resources. . .
Indeed it does, and indeed they certainly do. I was rather surprised to see just HOW much is out there and just how many claimed how much of the south China Sea.
The study included a significant area of the South China Sea, which the USGS estimates may contain anywhere between 5 and 22 billion barrels of oil and between 70 and 290 trillion cubic feet of gas in as-yet undiscovered resources (not including the Gulf of Thailand and other areas adjacent to the South China Sea).
…..but, that’s not all. The Chinese have higher ideas of what may be out there. Much much higher.
As the USGS assessment did not examine the entire area, undiscovered resources could be greater. In November 2012, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) estimated the area holds around 125 billion barrels of oil and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in undiscovered resources, although independent studies have not confirmed this figure.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has not yet resolved ownership disputes in the South China Sea. The 1982 convention created a number of guidelines concerning the status of islands, continental shelves, exclusive economic zones (EEZ), enclosed seas, and territorial limits. UNCLOS states that countries with overlapping claims must resolve them by good faith negotiation.
(From the U.S. Energy Information Administration)
The EIA site also has very detailed break downs, far beyond anything quoted, by nation and more than once. It covers different aspects of the topic, with text analysis.
It’s a very thorough look, in my opinion, and very well worth time taken to read it all, if this is an area that really interests you.
Those territorial claims are hard to quite get when it just says “ALL”, so, that brings us to the second resource. It’s a rather powerful way of seeing it. In fact, it’s a whole presentation in itself, quite literally, bringing several ways of covering a bit of everything on the subject.
The Council on Foreign Relations is the subject of much for conspiracy theory, and I don’t bring that up but to say it has been, and not a part of what I’m looking at here. What they also do is produce international analysis which is both interesting and extremely informative. In this case, they almost out did themselves.
East and South China Sea Claims is an interactive map that shows the claims one by one or overlapping. They all come to overlap, in many places.
By The Numbers gives a downright easy to read look at the stakes and the amounts, at least in what is known and provable as recoverable.
Finally, the Historical Context section has a 42 page moving timeline back to 1895 for the history and the origins of the conflict.
(These are anchors across the same page, and give direct links to the section of interest)
In addition to the above, I found a couple maps the New York Times created, and most helpfully on them, a blow up of the Spratly Islands to see just who claims what and in what way.
That interactive map shows things in a different way with specific display of energy leases and claims as well as the territorial claims overall.