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Chapter 9. The South China Sea: Competing Claims and Conflict Situations

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the underlying issues complicating and intensifying the South China Sea disputes, and analyses the implications of the ongoing tension for the region. It explains the significance of the South China Sea's natural resources, strategic position and international navigation routes, and provides a portrait of the competing claims. The chapter illustrates the intensified competition triggered by the continental shelf submissions of some claimants, the involvement of non-regional States, leading particularly to Sino-United States spats, and unilateral actions and maritime conflicts in disputed areas. It evaluates on China's undefined claims in the South China Sea represented by the commonly known 'U-shaped line' and related issues. Finally, the chapter offers some general considerations for China to take effective steps to secure its claims and recommendations for all the claimants to reduce the prospects for conflicts and to resolve the South China Sea disputes.

Keywords: continental shelf; maritime conflicts; Sino-United States; South China Sea disputes



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