CSS Essay Outline: South China Sea And Strategic Competition
This question is included in the CSS syllabus of International Relations,I.Law, Pakistan Affairs ,Current Affairs and US History.It is also helpful in essay.
Robert D. Kaplan in his book, Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific,says:“The South China Sea functions as the throat of the Western Pacific and Indian oceans—the mass of connective economic tissue where global sea routes coalesce. Here is the heart of Eurasia’s navigable rimland, punctuated by the Malacca, Sunda, Lombok, and Makassar straits. More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through these choke points, and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide.
Bill Hayton in his book,The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia ,says:“The South China Sea is a crucial link in the ‘global commons’, connecting the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Europe. Right now, along with the East China Sea, it is the most contested piece of sea in the world and one of the main reasons for the current anxiety over China’s intentions.”
China’s Premier Li Keqiang says, “China’s facilities, Chinese islands and reefs, are primarily for civilian purposes and even if there is a certain amount of defence equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation,”
I. Geostrategic, geopolitical and geo-economic importance of Water bodies
II. Strategic competition in the South China Sea
A. Important trade route and a busy waterway
Department of Defense report, $5.3 trillion worth of goods moves through the sea every year, which is about 30 percent of global maritime trade. That includes huge amounts of oil and $1.2 trillion worth of annual trade with the United States. Goods worth $5.3 trillion pass through the South China Sea10 percent of the world’s fish trade.
B. Rich in natural resources.
The US Energy Information Agency estimates there are some 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves under the sea, Its fisheries employ more than 3.5 million people.
III. China’s historic stance
China claims almost the entire stretch. China asserts it is entitled to more than the 200 nautical miles from its shores. It’s claim overlaps with the EEZ of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. In 1947, China outlined its claim to the disputed waterway by drawing a mapwith a U-shaped line covering almost 70 percent of the South China Sea. Referred to as the nine-dash line, it covered the Paracel and Spratly islands, a cluster of more than 30 others. The Paracel islands are claimed by China and Vietnam. Hanoi says they ruled the islands since the 17th century, long before China. the Spratly Islands, of more than 700 reefs, islets, atolls and islands. Six countries have staked claims there: China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.Similarly, the Scarborough Shoal, a 60 square mile (97 km) chain of rocks and reefs is claimed by both China and the Philippines.
IV. China’s construction in the SCS
A. China’s major outposts
1. The Scarborough Shoal
In 2012, China reconstructed seven islands on the Scarborough Shoal,that could allow it to monitor US military activity in the stretch at its base in the Philippines. Manila pursued the matter in the permanent court of arbitrations in the Hague instead of diplomatic channels
2. The Paracel Islands
China constructed of reefs into seven artificial islands in the Spratly Islands. Mischief Reef is equipped with a 3,000 meter run way, 24 fighter jet hangars, five bomber hangars, and refueling tankers. Fiery Cross Reef is likely an intelligence collection hub. It includes ray domes, radar facilities, mobile missile shelters, and underground storage for ammunition, fuel, and water. Subi Reef, the biggest of the three is just 12 miles from the Philippines’ Thitu Island. It’s the size of Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. Subi has 24 combat aircraft and four larger hangars. It also has a high-frequency “elephant cage” radar array on its southern end.
When China moved a giant oil rig to the region in 2013, it was seen as direct threat by the Vietnamese and undermined China-Vietnam relations . Beijing has also positioned surface to air missiles on, Woody Island, one of the largest islands and recently added a helicopter base to Duncan Island.
3. The Spratly Islands
Since 2013, Beijing started extensive construction on the floating and submerged reefs of the Fiery Cross in the Spratly islands, installing airstrips and missile defence systems. It also conducts regular patrols, driving away non-Chinese vessels and China installed military runways on Mischief Reef and Subi Reef as well.
V. What are the issues?
A. Competing claims to sovereignty
B. The problem of the nine-dash line (NDL)
C. China’s behavior in attempting to resolve its claims
D. The bilateral issue: U.S. military operations in China’s EEZ
E. territorial claim and demarcation of territorial sea
F. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) generated by the territory.
VI. Major players
A. Six major Players
There are six countries, namely China (including Taiwan, who maintains similar claims as China), Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
VII. US stance on the SCS
A. The US regards the South China Sea as international waters, and wants it to be “free” for navigation under the UN maritime law.
B. Pivot or strategic shift to Asia(President Barack Obama)
1. Regional alliances,
2. Engagement with Asia-Pacific multilateral organizations,
3. Strengthening of commercial ties.
4. Furthermore, 2,500 U.S. Marines were deployed to Australia.
C. QUAD- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad –
It’s more than just changing the name of the ‘Asia-Pacific’ to the ‘Indo-Pacific’ – the ‘Quad’ grouping of like-minded democracies has the potential to dramatically change the region’s security landscape This much was evidenced when the US, Japan, Australia and India announced this month they had agreed to create a coalition that would patrol and exert influence on waterways from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific to the (much disputed) East
and South China Seas. The grouping of the four “like-minded” democracies – known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad.
VIII. Major purposes of the US in SCS
A. The ability of the U.S. military to operate — specifically to sail in and fly over the South China Sea.
B. The defense of U.S. allies
C. And most important U.S. credibility, particularly if China challenges international laws —forged with the help U.S. global leadership — such as the U.N. Convention on the Law and the Sea (U.N. C.L.O.S.).
Every year about $1.2 trillion of US-traded goods pass through this route, and Washington wants it to remain as part of international waters. The stretch is also close to the Philippines, an ally in region from where Washington can keep an eye on developments in China. Manila and Washington have a mutual defence treaty which dates back to World War II. The US has also provided Manila with hi-tech military hardware for intelligence gathering and surveillance to counter China.
IX. Thucydides Trap
The so called “Thucydides Trap” as it pertains to the South China Sea misunderstands U.S. interests. China is scared to death of a minor incident at sea resulting in military conflict.
X. What international law says and How has the dispute been handled?
1982 United Nations Convention of the Law and the Sea, each country is able to claim 200 miles of water from their coastlines as an Exclusive Economic Zone. China’s territorial Sea claim spans 1,000 miles of water, which they outline with a Nine-Dash Line on government issued maps, and justify from a historical basis. The Philippines challenged China’s reconstruction of seven islands on the Scarborough Shoal at a UN backed permanent court of arbitration in the Hague in 2013.
The tribunal last year ruled in favour of the Philippines, saying China had illegally seized its maritime territory. “There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’,” the court said.
XI. If so many countries claim the waterway, who controls what?
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets out that states can control the territorial waters within 200 nautical miles (370 km) off their shores. These are called the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
XII. String of Pearls policy.What are the pearls at the IOR- Indian Ocean Region?
String of Pearls’ the network of Chinese intentions in India Ocean Region (IOR). the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities developed by China in countries falling on the Indian Ocean between the Chinese mainland and Port Sudan.
A. Gwadar (in Pakistan) the Port of Gwadar Port of Chhabar in Iran.
B. Hambantota (in Sri Lanka) the Port of Hambantota for Chinese use.
C. Chittagong (in Bangladesh) the Port of Chittagong which gives it a free access to the Bay of Bengal, which is strategically very important.
D. Sittwe (in Myanmar) Kyaukpyu port. The Bay of Bengal has given China access to have a commercial Maritime facility which can be used as a military facility at the time of conflict.
E. Maroa, Maldives the Male airport(Feydhoo Finolhu) to a Chinese company for 50 years at the cost of 4 million dollars.
XIII. BRI’s six arms
A. New Eurasian Land Bridge
B. China – Mongolia – Russia Corridor
C. China – Central Asia – West Asia Corridor
D. China – Indochina Peninsula Corridor
E. China – Pakistan Corridor
F. Bangladesh – China – India – Myanmar Corridor
XIV. Methods to Resolve the Dispute
A. Legal solution-the International Court of Justice (ICJ)- who will judge the dispute according to the international laws applicable
B. A political solution which is also called one track approach,,, Third, the one track approaches, including the 10+1 Summit between ASEAN and Chinese leaders and other regular ministerial-level meeting mechanisms can review and co-ordinate each country’s behaviour to enhance understanding and cooperation. First, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed in 2002 shows the signs of all claimants’ will to demilitarize the dispute. This effort ensures that the dispute develop into a political issue which can be solved by political approach in the future. It will be time consuming but lasting. By adopting a political solution, all parties will discuss the dispute in formal occasions, either at bilateral or multilateral levels.
C. Confidence Building Measures (CBM) can also be applied to avoid further conflict and promote understanding among claimants. Confidence Building Measures can include two track approaches such as the workshop approach or undergoing joint projects in the disputed areas, as well as cooperation in energy exploration. Two track approach is supplements to one track approach. By holding informal meetings and carrying out cooperative projects, claimants can accumulate confidence and understanding. The ASEAN Regional Forum and other informal meetings will be playing more important role in providing ideas and suggestions. It doesn’t look like. Tensions in the South China Sea have several times pushed the countries involved to the verge of confrontation. The international community has been rallying for a diplomatic solution. For the past seven years, China and nine other members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been discussing a new code of conduct for the South China Sea. China says its first draft is ready but details on what it entails have not been released. The code of conduct is set to be discussed at the Asean leaders’ summit in November in the Philippines.
XV. Recommended options for U.S. policy toward the South China Sea
A. The South China Sea is not the central strategic element in the overall U.S.- China relationship.
B. – The South China Sea is an issue to be managed; a permanent solution is not likely in the near term.
C. – There is no one preferred format for negotiated outcomes. Bilateral negotiations should not be dismissed or portrayed as less desirable. The reality is that because of overlapping claims, solutions that are negotiated directly by the claimants are inevitable.
D. – Policy should not be overwhelmingly anti-Chinese. The United States should criticize Chinese behavior along with the behavior of American friends and allies when warranted, but keep in mind China may have the best legal claim to all the land features, although that will never become legal certainty unless Beijing is willing to agree to arbitration.
E. – The U.S. government should remain sensitive to the efforts of littoral states to involve the United States more deeply in supporting their claims in order to balance against China.
XVI. Concluding remarks
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