Home > Uncategorized > What’s the Big Deal about the Spratlys?

What’s the Big Deal about the Spratlys?

A relaxing destination for tourists; A headache for politicians

After reading probably my hundredth article about China’s conflict with [insert Asian country here] over the sovereignty of the Spratly Islands, I decided to do some research.

Some quick facts:

  • The Spratly Islands- basically a group of more than 650 small land masses in the South China Sea
  • No Indigenous population
  • Claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei & the Philippines
  • Rich fishing grounds
  • contains significant gas & oil reserves- a conflict over oil– shocking, really…
  • located throughout a main shipping route from Europe to East Asia

China claims to have discovered the islands during the Han Dynasty in 2 BC. During the last few centuries, both China and Vietnam included the islands on their maps. During the 1930s, the islands were claimed by both the French and Japanese. The Philippines’ first recorded claim to the Spratly Islands was in 1946 at the United Nations General Assembly.

The islands’ claimants all have military presence on the Spratlys. In 1988, 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed by Chinese soldiers. In 2002, the Vietnamese attacked a Philippine jet in the region. In recent years, several of the claimants have been promoting tourism in the Spratly Islands. That’s a great idea- there aren’t enough conflict-ridden vacation destinations. In 2002, the claimants, sans Taiwan, signed an agreement to negotiate peacefully over the territory.

The islands should be separated. What good reason is there to treat the dispute as a package deal?

Malaysia– has a military presence on three of the islands that are on its continental shelf. One of these islands even has a dive site on it.

Taiwan– I love Taiwan, but in this case Taiwan gets nothing-worry about your own sovereignty.

the Philippines– You snooze, you lose. 1946- too late to be reasonable- China’s been claiming the islands for centuries…

Vietnam– Vietnam has some historical claim over the Spratlys. A considerable amount of territory should be granted to Vietnam.

China– Although China did not inhabit the Spratlys centuries ago, the country still seems to have the most legitimate historical claim over the territory. Most of the Spratly territory should be granted to China.

Brunei- Brunei’s claims…Brunei’s a small player. The outcome will most likely depend on how generous the winners decide to be..

Of course until the claimants know just how much oil is at stake, no decisions will be made. The games of bluffing, whining, and saber rattling will plod along undisturbed.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sarah
    February 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I want to go to there.

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