Why in news?
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States would treat Beijing’s pursuit of resources in the disputed South China Sea as illegal
- The United States has long rejected Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, which is both home to valuable oil and gas deposits and is a vital waterway for the world’s commerce
China’s Authority and Disregard to Judgements
- The Philippines invoked the dispute settlement mechanism of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013 regarding the disputed Spratlys, to which the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) passed a Judgement that China’s position in the matter was NOT legal.
- China had aggravated the situation by undertaking land reclamation and construction, and had harmed the environment and violated its obligation to preserve the ecosystem.
- The award implied that China violated the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). China dismissed the judgment as “null and void.”
- Philippines had not followed up on the PCA judgment because the Philippines could not afford to fight China.
- Not one country challenged China, which agreed to settle disputes bilaterally, and to continue work on a Code of Conduct with countries of the ASEAN.
Countries around China Strengthening their Military
- Vietnam has added six Kilo-class, Russian-origin submarines to its navy.
- France, Germany and the Netherlands, respectively, have supplied Formidable-class stealth ships to Singapore, patrol boats to Brunei Darussalam, and corvettes to Indonesia.
- Japan is partially funding the upgradation of the Indonesian coast guard.
- Indonesia and the Philippines are in early stages of exploring procurement of the BrahMos missile from India.
How is China Exploiting the South China Sea?
Growing Chinese muscularity in the SCS is visible in
- Increased patrolling and live-fire exercising by Chinese naval vessels
- Ramming and sinking of fishing vessels of other claimant countries
- Renaming of SCS features
- Building of runways, bunkers, and habitation for possible long-term stationing of personnel on the atolls claimed by China
- Chinese exploration and drilling vessels competing aggressively with those of other littoral countries in the disputed waters.