Understanding History, Relevance of South China Sea

The South China Sea has long been rich in natural resources and trade between people. It is estimated that more than $5 trillion in global trade flows through the region each year, while explorations have discovered abundant natural gas and hydrocarbon reserves. China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan all lay claim to overlapping territories among the sea’s vast stretch of islands, rocks, and archipelagos, leading to tensions that threaten peace and prosperity.

This site dives below the surface and features a distillation of the region’s complex history into distinct milestones, an interactive Presence in the Spratlys map, and an expert Q&A section. Our editors also regularly update the site with Latest Developments and the Analysis related to the South China Sea. Competing historical accounts and sovereignty claims lie squarely in the middle of the dispute.

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