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UCLMUN 2012 – Security Council South China Sea dispute The South China Sea is a highly disputed nautical area in the Pacific Ocean encompassing about 3,500,000 square kilometres (1,400,000 square miles). It is thought to be rich in minerals and resources including oil and gas, in addition to being one of the world‟s most busy and important trade routes. Within the sea are over 250 islands, atolls, and reefs, (often grouped into archipelagos) the vast majority of which are uninhabited, but are hotly contested by surrounding countries. Key archipelagos are The Spratly Islands, and The Paracel Islands. These two archipelagos are located in the complex dispute between independent states of China, Taiwan, The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, all of which lay claims on various, and overlapping, territories of the South China Sea.



Background The South China Sea is an extremely important region in terms of geopolitics for a number of reasons. Trade More than half of the world's annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok, with the majority continuing on into the South China Sea. Tanker traffic through the Strait of Malacca leading into the South China Sea is more than three times greater than Suez Canal traffic, and well over five times more than the Panama Canal.

(Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Resources Thought to be rich in natural resources such as oil and natural gas, it is estimated that the South China Sea may contain 7.5 billion barrels (1.1 billion tonnes) of oil by the US, but China claims the area may contain 17.7 billion tonnes of oil (cf. 13 billion tonnes in Kuwait). The real wealth of the area, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), may well be the natural gas reserves, thought to estimate 900 trillion cubic feet (25 trillion cubic metres); the same as the proven reserves of Qatar. Asia‟s robust economic growth has boosted demand for energy in the region. The EIA has estimated that oil consumption in developing Asian countries is expected to rise by 2.7% p.a. from 14.8 million barrels/day (2004) to nearly 29.8 million barrels/day by 2030. China is expected to account for almost half of this growth. Fishing There are also profuse fishing opportunities within the area. It is believed that in 1988, the South China Sea accounted for 8% of the world fishing catches, and this figure has only grown. According to studies made by the Philippines‟ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, this body of water holds one third of the entire world's marine biodiversity, thereby making it a very important area for the ecosystem.

Territorial claims China, Taiwan, The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei all have made competing claims of territories in the South China Sea. Both China and Taiwan claim almost the entire region as their own; a claim that overlaps virtually every other country in the region.

( The most active in staking their claims have been China and Vietnam. Before 1974, China and South Vietnam each controlled part of the Paracel Islands, but after a brief conflict in which 18 soldiers were killed, China has controlled the entire Paracel archipelago. In March 1988, the Spratly Islands were the site of a naval clash in which over 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed. The Philippines has also been involved in a number of minor skirmishes with Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian forces. Naval clashes are still regular today. History of claims In 1947, China issued a map detailing its claim. It showed the two archipelagos of Spratly and Paracel falling entirely within its territory. Taiwan has mirrored the claim as it considers itself the Republic of China. The key part of the claim is the “Ninedotted line”. This is the demarcation used by the Chinese government of 1949 to show the maximum extent of its claim, and is literally nine dashes roughly outlining the alleged area of sovereignty.

Map showing Nine-dotted line in green. ( The Nine-dotted line was originally an “Eleven-dotted line” but was revised in 1949, and was presented to the UN on 7th May 2009 as proof of claim. Diplomatic complaints were immediately lodged by the Philippines against China for claiming the whole of the South China Sea illegally. A day later, Vietnam and Malaysia filed their joint protest, and Indonesia also registered a protest, despite having no claim on the South China Sea. President Aquino of the Philippines said "China‟s 9-dash line territorial claim over the entire South China Sea is against international laws, particularly the United National Convention of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS)". Vietnam also rejected the Nine-dotted line claim, citing that it is baseless and against the UNCLOS. One significant issue with the Nine-dotted line is that the dotted lines to not show how the lines would be joined if they were continuous, and the extent of the area claimed by China. This has been protested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

United National Convention of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place from 1973 through 1982. It replaced the older and weaker Freedom of the Seas concept from the 17 th century, and became effective as of 16th November 1994. The convention introduced a number of provisions. The most significant issues covered were setting limits, navigation, archipelagic status and transit regimes, exclusive economic zones (EEZs), continental shelf jurisdiction, deep seabed mining, the exploitation regime, protection of the marine environment, scientific research, and settlement of disputes. The UN outlines EEZs thusly: “These extend from the edge of the territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles from the baseline. Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources. In casual use, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf. The EEZs were introduced to halt the increasingly heated clashes over fishing rights, although oil was also becoming important. The success of an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 1947 was soon repeated elsewhere in the world, and by 1970 it was technically feasible to operate in waters 4000 metres deep. Foreign nations have the freedom of navigation and overflight, subject to the regulation of the coastal states. Foreign states may also lay submarine pipes and cables.” Currently, UNCLOS offers the most comprehensive outline for nautical conduct and dispute resolution available. UNCLOS provides for claims to areas of the ocean to be made using the 200 mile EEZ and/or the continental shelf principle.

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Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea 2002 The Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea 2002 (DoC) is a nonbinding declaration that was signed on 4th November 2002 in Phnom Penh by the 10 members of ASEAN, and China. The signatories encourage committed parties to work towards adopting a legally binding code of conduct whilst exercising „selfrestraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes‟. But whilst there has been no further occupation of disputed territory since the declaration was signed, the theoretical commitment to self-restraint has not put an end to unannounced and potentially provocative reinforcement of already occupied islands. While diplomats on all sides made increasingly vacuous reiterations of fealty to the weakening 2002 declaration, several states undertook unilateral military, bureaucratic and jurisdictional initiatives in the South China Sea, with the aim of changing the political and military dynamics of the disputed claims. China‟s initiatives have been particularly prominent. China and ASEAN signed the Implementation Guidelines for the declaration in Bali in July 2011 as a step (albeit a small one) towards agreeing the code of conduct the declaration had promised. The guidelines, however, do little to bolster the effectiveness of the declaration, which remains non-binding.

Present disputes Whilst clashes between naval vessels of claimants are regularly reported, microdisputes are dealt with diplomatically for the most part. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has emerged as an important forum for dialogue amongst South China Sea claimants, despite not including China and Taiwan. ASEAN members, especially Malaysia, are very keen to avoid armed conflict in the region. China has preferred to resolve competing claims bi-laterally, while ASEAN countries prefer multi-lateral talks, believing that they are disadvantaged in bi-lateral negotiations with the much larger China and that because many countries claim the same territory only multilateral talks could effectively resolve the competing claims. However, recent attitude shifts in China‟s foreign policy have altered the situation in the last 2 years. In July 2010, in Vietnam, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the Peoples Republic of China to resolve the territorial dispute. China responded by demanding the US keep out of the issue. This came at a time when both countries have been engaging in naval exercises in a show of force to the opposing side, which increased tensions in the region. Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, said that Vietnam's invitation to the United States to mediate was "an attack on China". The US Department of Defence released a statement on August 18 2010 where it opposed the use of force to resolve the dispute, and accused China of assertive behaviour. The situation has taken a drastic turn since mid-2011 though, and escalation is feared by the international community. A timeline of major events since March 2011 is as follows. March 4th – Two Chinese patrol boats allegedly threaten to ram a Philippine survey ship. May 20th – Chinese fighter jets allegedly harass members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines near Spratly Islands. 21st – Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie visits Manila for talks. 26th – Vietnamese ship operating on its claimed continental shelf has its seismic cables cut by Chinese patrol boats. June 5th – Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Liang tells Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore „China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea‟. 9th – China warns Vietnam and the Philippines that any exploration in the Spratly area without its consent is a violation of its jurisdiction and sovereignty. This is in response to large anti-China protests in both countries. – Chinese patrol boats cut seismic cables on Vietnamese ships on Vietnameseclaimed continental shelf. China claim that its fishing boats were chased away by armed Vietnamese ships

13th – Vietnam holds “routine” live-fire drills 25 miles off central Quang Nam province. Beijing denounces the exercises as a military show of force.

Anti-China protests in Vietnam (AP) July 20th – China and ASEAN agree on a set of preliminary guidelines on the implementation of the DoC; an initial set of steps towards the more conclusive declaration since all parties have been deadlocked since 2002. – The Philippines sends delegation of Congressmen to Pagasa Island in the Spratly archipelago (population 60 Philippine civilians), raises flag and sings national anthem. From Pasaga, Congressman Walden Bello says “We come in peace, we support a diplomatic solution. But let there be no doubt in anybody‟s mind, in any foreign powers‟ mind that if they dare to eject us from Pagasa, Filipinos will not take that sitting down. Filipinos are born to resist aggression. Filipinos are willing to die for their soil”. 21st – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu says "China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters. The move of the Philippine side seriously infringed China's territorial sovereignty." 22nd – The Indian amphibious assault vessel, INS Airawat, on a friendly visit to Vietnam, is confronted by a ship claiming to be of the Chinese Navy, 45 nautical miles from Vietnamese coast by radio. The unidentified Chinese warship demanded that INS Airawat identify itself and explain its presence in the South China Sea. India claim that no Chinese ship was visible, and that the Airawat was in international waters. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma states that inquiries are being made with the “competent authorities”.

August 10th – China officially launches its first aircraft carrier, developed from the Soviet-era Ukrainian ship Varyag. It is a powerful military signal in the region.

September 18th – India and Vietnam sign a 3 year oil sector deal to explore areas in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, without referring to India by name, stated as follows: “China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea. China's stand is based on historical facts and international law. We hope that the relevant countries respect China's position and refrain from taking unilateral action to complicate and expand the issue. As for oil and gas exploration activities, our consistent position is that we are opposed to any country engaging in oil and gas exploration and development activities in waters under China's jurisdiction. We hope the foreign countries do not get involved in South China Sea dispute.” An influential Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper has warned that “every means possible” should be used to stop India‟s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) engaging in exploration projects in the South China Sea. 21st – Japan holds discussions with Philippine diplomats on resolving territorial disputes in the South China Sea. A “permanent working group” to tackle Asian maritime concerns is proposed between the two countries. October 12th – China and Vietnam sign agreement to settle maritime disputes. The two countries agreed to promote maritime cooperation in marine environmental protection, scientific research, search and rescue, and disaster reduction and prevention. The two also agree to meet twice a year to resolve any issues. 18th – 3,000 U.S. and Filipino marines start two weeks of annual military drills in the Philippines that include a hostile beach assault exercise near the disputed Spratly Islands. 19th – Filipino warship BRP Rizal “accidentally” collides with and severs towing cable of Chinese fishing vessel in disputed waters. The fishing vessel abandoned the 23 unmanned dinghies it was towing, which were retrieved by the Philippine warship and brought back to its naval base on the island of Palawan. Manila has declined any formal apology.

25th – Popular State-owned Chinese newspaper „Global Times‟ states “If these countries don't want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons. We need to be ready for that, as it may be the only way for the disputes in the sea to be resolved.” The capture of Chinese vessels by the Philippines navy was referenced in the article. 26th – Philippines and Vietnam told joint talks in Manila, and sign maritime agreement. The pact calls for information sharing and join protection of marine resources in the South China Sea. November 4th – Vietnamese diplomat, Dang Dinh Quy, warns that tensions in the South China Sea could explode into “full-scale conflicts” unless quarrelling neighbours abide by international law.

Other regional players Australia Stability in Southeast Asia on Australia‟s „Northern approaches‟ is seen as particularly important as a hostile nation can project power out to Australia. Lying on the edges of this disputed zone, Australia is naturally concerned with high tensions which could disrupt its seaborne trade and energy supply routes. On 11th November, the USA announced that it would increase its permanent military presence in the north of Australia. This makes sense in terms of security for Australia‟s vast coastline. However, Hugh White, a former senior Australian defence official, warned that a dramatic expansion of U.S. troops was "a very significant and potentially very risky move for Australia". He also said "In Washington and in Beijing this will be seen as Australia aligning itself with an American strategy to contain China." India The obvious regional power contender, India has become more threatened by the geopolitical dynamics recently. With the recent halting by the US of the annual $800 million in military aid to Pakistan marking a new low in their relations, Pakistan has looked for support in China. Increased relations between China and Pakistan effectively surround India. China now stands as a clear rival to Indian influence in Nepal and Bangladesh, and is the largest aid donor to Sri Lanka. The West is putting pressure on India to be firmer with regional military juntas, such as in Burma, and will indeed hold its US allies close. However, this limits India both militarily and economically on the extent to which it can influence events in South Asia. India now accounts for 9 percent of global arms purchases, and has increased its defence budget by around 11 per cent year on year; a trend that a wary Delhi is likely to continue. Japan With 90% of its imported oil passing through the South China Sea, Japan has its own strategic interests in the region. The power balance in the South China Sea also has an enormous impact on security in Japan‟s surrounding waters, namely the East China Sea and Philippine Sea. In addition, if China successfully obtains a sea-based secondstrike capability by dominating the South China Sea, that would undermine the credibility of the US extended deterrent. Japan announced its new National Defence Programme Guidelines in December 2010, which calls for enhanced ISR operations along the Ryukyu island chain and reinforcement of the submarine fleet. In the recent US-Japan 2+2 meeting, Tokyo and Washington included maintenance of maritime security and strengthened ties with ASEAN, Australia, and India in common strategic objectives. United States of America The US has made clear its opposition to China‟s assertiveness at various regional forums by emphasising its interest in freedom of navigation. However, militarily the USA‟s 7th Naval Fleet is under stress due to budget cuts. In contrast, China has increased its defence spending by 15% annually since 2000.

After the Osama Bin Laden incident in Pakistan, US-Pakistan relations have taken a steep dive, resulting in stronger Sino-Pakistan relations; Pakistan has asked China to build a naval base in its waters. All this spells weakening influence in the region at this critical time. In addition, alarmed members of ASEAN look to the US for support which may drag the US in to the conflict, especially given that the live-fire drills by Vietnam and the Philippines in disputed waters was done with the aid of the US.

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