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NewsPrice: South China Sea contention: territorial conflict in the region tomorrow

Since the beginning of the new millennium, the value of the Asia-Pacific region in the international system continues to grow and in the future it may become the most important region in the world. It means, that all the territorial conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region have a major impact on the regional and world economy. The most important of them now stands a territorial dispute in the South China Sea between 6 countries in the region. What is it and what are its prospects?

Since the late 40-ies of the XX century in the South China Sea (JuKM) in the Asia-Pacific region there is a territorial conflict over control of the islands. They belong dispute 6 states - China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. To these islands are Archipelago Spratly, Paracel Islands and Scarborough reef. And on the same territory can apply for more than two states. So, Paracel Islands are a subject of interest to Vietnam and China, Scarborough affiliation claimed by China and the Philippines, Spratly archipelago and is the subject of claims by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The intersection of the interests of these states, as well as involvement in the conflict as the other important regional, and global players, including the US, It gives it a special difficulty.

NewsPrice: South China Sea contention: territorial conflict in the region tomorrow

But before turning to the most territorial conflicts, consider his history of the emergence and development.

It should be noted immediately, that until the XX century any conflicts over ownership of the islands there were no. At the beginning of the last century begins the first debate between the Chinese Qing Dynasty and the Indochinese Union (part of the French colonial empire) regarding the ownership of the islands. In 1930, the ROC government has refused the offer of the French consider the dispute in a court of international jurisdiction. properly, China adheres to similar tactics and now.

AT 1939 Japan was occupied several islands in YUKM and use their territory for military purposes. And in 1947 city, after Japan's surrender, Communist China has presented on public display card, where its boundary in YUKM was designated as a so-called "line devyatipunktirnoy" . This line includes at least 90 percent of all YUKM, including the disputed islands. As a result of these actions the territorial dispute erupted into open phase.

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Map on which the red color is applied "Devyatipunktirnaya line" of China. (in June 2014 g. Chinese authorities have added the 10th dotted east o.Tayvan). Blue shows the boundaries of the exclusive economic zones of countries in the region (China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, South Korea, Japan). The blue color shows the disputed border and the imposition of the EEZ of China and Japan.

In the history of the conflict can be identified 4 main stages:

1. 1950-1960 gg. During this period, the Philippines declared its sovereignty over the northern islands of the Spratly archipelago, which caused a sharp negative reaction of China, declared the entire archipelago and the Paracel Islands its territory.

2. 1970-1980 gg. At that time there was a military confrontation between China and Vietnam. AT 1974 g. China attacked the pro-American forces in South Vietnam, were on the Paracel Islands, He defeated them and captured the area. Using brute force China relied on the, United States, CONCLUSIONS then troops from Vietnam as a result of actual defeat in the Second Indochina War, will not support his ally. what, properly, It happened, as Washington and Beijing had recently found common ground in opposing the common enemy - the Soviet Union.

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Ships of South Vietnam, who participated in the Battle of the Paracel Islands

In the late 80s, China has made repeated attacks, this time attacking the already united socialist Vietnam on the Spratly Islands. This "outing" was a success once again. As a result of the Celestial Empire and strengthened in this archipelago.

3. 1990-2000 years. Care from the world arena of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and major changes within the PRC led to a change in its foreign policy. Still defending its control over YUKM, Beijing, to avoid possible political isolation, I headed for cooperation with other countries in the region. China participated in the ASEAN international organization forums. Beijing has shown a willingness to compromise, but they ASEAN countries, such as the Philippines and Malaysia, had claims against each other, We failed to form a common position on conflict resolution.

4. 2009-present. At the present stage in the territorial disputes in the Asia-Pacific region are beginning to interfere with global players, first of all, USA. In the early 2010s, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, that the US has a strategic interest in the Asia-Pacific region, and they can be mediators in conflict resolution. When Donald Trump is the current President of the United States stepped up its pressure on China, trying to avoid, so he took a dominant position in the region. The actual position of the White House expressed its previous spokeswoman Trump Sean Spicer, declared, that the US does not consider the disputed islands in YUKM in China and will protect the waters of international shipping by the capture of one country.

NewsPrice: South China Sea contention: territorial conflict in the region tomorrow

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State in the 2009-2013 gg.

China criticized the US position, and continued to insist on the settlement of the dispute bilaterally. He wants to conduct separate negotiations with each country party to the dispute and refuses to debate in a multilateral format, especially with the mediation of third countries, not to mention, that there is some common territorial conflict in YUKM.

The history of the territorial dispute in YUKM, you need to explain, why the islands in the region in general are so valuable and so they beat several states.

The thing is, that through the waters YUKM trade routes, carrying international sea lanes, including the transportation of hydrocarbons from the Middle East, including some 80% all oil, imported China and Japan. But especially important is the Strait of Malacca, through which each year goes to 70 thousands of ships from different countries and 20 thousands of oil tankers, which is about half of the world's merchant fleet tonnage and one third of global maritime traffic.

Besides, in YUKM in the second half of the last century large deposits of hydrocarbons have been found, that, estimates for China, may be at least 120 billion. barrels and 500 trillion. cubic meters of gas. Although these data are not confirmed by US experts, called much more modest figures - about 11 billion. barrels to 6 trillion. cubic meters, it still gives YUKM great strategic importance and explains, why State APR, lacking its own energy resources, so try to control the area.

NewsPrice: South China Sea contention: territorial conflict in the region tomorrow

Shipping and natural resources in the South China Sea

Explaining the value of islands YUKM for the region, Retract the territorial standoff, Referring directly to the warring factions.

China It bases its position on the, that the disputed islands were discovered by the Chinese several thousand years ago, and they are present on the maps of different ruling dynasties and elsewhere long before, as an issue of their membership in general there. China's position is based on the principle of "three no's": no - multilateral negotiations, no - conflict giving international status, and there - the designation of specific territorial claims YUKM. Having the status of the strongest power in the region, China can afford to take a hard-line stance on the control of the sea, because it considers the area a zone of their national interests. However, Beijing is currently not interested in direct military conflict, as it can shake its status as the superpower, therefore prefers to conduct peace talks on territorial issues.

Beijing now controls all of the Paracel Islands and the Spratly reefs. In order to establish its sovereignty over the heavily militarized YUKM China-controlled territory, creating artificial islands and placing there the military infrastructure and military equipment, including airfields and mobile artillery units. At the same time Beijing is developing on the islands and civilian infrastructure, including for fishing, bringing significant revenue to the state, and to develop are in the oil and gas resources YUKM.

NewsPrice: South China Sea contention: territorial conflict in the region tomorrow

The process of China to create an artificial island in the Spratly archipelago within

position Vietnam, in its turn, is its claim to control over all the islands in YUKM, which he calls his East Sea. Who belong to Vietnam 5 islands, including the Spratly island itself, and 16 reefs. It is Viet Nam in the past was the enemy of China during the military clashes on the islands, and is currently ongoing skirmishes between the countries in the waters, which they claim. Unlike China, Vietnam is interested in the internationalization of the conflict and tries to resolve it through interaction with regional and world players, such as the US, Russia and Japan, as well as with international organizations. It was he who in 2009 in cooperation with Malaysia has applied to the UN, in which he described his position on the territorial boundaries, which caused great dissatisfaction on the part of China.

A big role in the conflict in YUKM play Philippines. They claim the entire Spratly archipelago, besides Islands Truong Sha (Vietnamese name o.Spratli). Who controls Manila 9 territorial objects, 5 of which - the island. The Philippines is also interested in the internationalization of the conflict, therefore 2013 year, exhausted the possibilities of an agreement with China, filed in the Hague International Court of Arbitration. is he, in its turn, at 2016 g. ruled, China has no "historical rights" to the disputed territory, which the, by itself, not guilty. However, Philippines, to defend its position in court, and we do not intend to abandon any further negotiations with China.

Affect the development of the situation can and current president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, committed to a certain rapprochement with China. For example, at the summit of ASEAN 2017 , he refused to Chinese actions in the region criticism. but, building a more peaceful relationship with China, Philippines do not abandon their territorial claims to the islands of the South China Sea. In order to strengthen its sovereignty over the territories they controlled in the same, Like China, develop military infrastructure there.

position Malaysia It is to claim to 12 islands and reefs of the Spratly archipelago. Currently, under its control is 5 Islands YUKM, three of which she is built military and civil infrastructure, at the same time engaged in the extraction of energy resources within the waters under control and recognizing Chinese "devyatipunktirnuyu" line. Despite periodic invasion of China ships in the waters of the state, Kuala Lumpur is not interested in open confrontation with Beijing, mainly due to intensive economic cooperation between the two countries. However, Malaysia, like Vietnam, is committed to the internationalization of the conflict and its resolution has attracted global players - the United States, Australia and Japan.

Taiwan shared many positions in mainland China, however, due to its status as partially recognized state, unable to fully participate in conflict resolution and in the signing of international agreements, like the document on the Conduct of Parties, adopted by the countries of the region 2002 year. It controls one Itu Aba Island or Taypindao - a kind of outpost in Taipei Spratly archipelago - which operates a military airfield.

Do not actively participate in the territorial dispute Brunei. Not controlling the island YUKM, He claims the reef Louise, with a 80-h gg. busy Malaysia. Off the coast of Brunei being the development of oil fields, including with the participation of Chinese companies.

NewsPrice: South China Sea contention: territorial conflict in the region tomorrow

All parties to the conflict in the Asia-Pacific region and their territorial claims

Defining the views of the opposing states, follow, any deterioration of the situation in place in YUKM 2019 year.

It should be noted, that the majority of exacerbations in the past year were related to the internationalization of the conflict and confrontation between China, countries in the region and the Western powers, Beijing does not recognize the control YUKM.

7 January 2019 the American destroyer «USS MacCampbell» took place near the Paracel Islands, claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, thereby challenging the first sovereignty over the territory.

In January and February last year also held a joint UK-US naval exercises in the South China Sea. The US command expressed a desire to continue to attract allies in the future for similar operations to contain China and prevent it from changing the status YUKM.

Furthermore, increasing militarization of water space and China's efforts to establish its control over all the surrounding maritime areas prompted the actions and other European countries. So, in April 2019 , the French ship «Vendemiaire» held across the Taiwan Strait, connecting the South China Sea to the East China, then Celestial issued a sharp protest and accused France of the illegal invasion of "Chinese waters". true, if you adhere to the provisions of international law, the Taiwan Strait, which is shared between the PRC and Taiwan, not an internal water area of ​​the first.

And in May of last year to challenge China's sovereignty over the waters of YUKM joined by other international players. They were first held exercises, in which the Philippines participated, India, Japan and the US in the Gulf of Changi, located on the way from the Gulf to the Malacca YUKM. ships 4 countries led by the US destroyer took place in Singapore, where the ASEAN summit was held +. properly, it was another US achievement in building a broad international coalition, against China.

American and Japanese ships in the Philippine Sea

In response, China is trying to strengthen its presence in YUKM and provide their own regional security. FROM 2018 year it doubled its military forces in the region. And in the first quarter of last year, hundreds of Chinese warships have surrounded the islands, which is under the control of the Philippines, to put pressure on the authorities of this country.

Considering that, that China is not going to give up sovereignty over YUKM, even the international coalition forces to challenge his claims can only lead to greater deployment of the PLA forces in the region.

No less interesting is the position occupied by the regional players, which are not directly involved in a territorial conflict. Of these, it is necessary to allocate, first of all, Indonesia, Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

Indonesia It is not interested in the islands YUKM, but it is concerned about the protection of their maritime boundaries, sometimes even allowing himself to sink ships, violated its territorial waters. It also carries out large-scale military exercises. AT 2015 the Government of Indonesia planirovalopostroit new military base on the archipelago of Natuna, is part of the zone of interest Chinese. However, it is Indonesia offered to mediate in resolving the conflict in the South China Sea, eg, in the development of the Code of Conduct of the parties, according to which all disputes should be resolved peacefully.

Japan also not interested in the territories YUKM, but it has its own territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku archipelago possession of the islands in the East China Sea. For this reason, it is in favor of curbing China and the United States supports efforts to internationalize the conflict in YUKM.

As for the countries of the Korean peninsula, the South Korea, which is one of the main US allies in the region, traditionally acts in support. North Korea as a whole supports China. However, both countries are too distracted by conflicting, to actively engage in the situation surrounding the South China Sea.

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regional players, not directly drawn into a territorial conflict

Concerning U.S.A, they are for a long time on this issue remained neutral. but, with the beginning of the 2010s and the new policy "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific region, Americans are beginning to consider this region of strategic importance for their national interests. Respectively, they are included actively in the conflict and begin to involve him more and more countries. Washington offered mediation in conflict resolution, but Beijing refused sharply, insisting, that the dispute should be resolved at the regional level.

United States fear the rise of China in YUKM, It is jeopardizing not only their status as the undisputed leader in the region, but also purely economic interests. therefore, under the pretext of freedom of navigation, The United States stepped up its military presence in the South China Sea and conducted exercises with allies on a permanent basis. Meanwhile, the US actions support not only traditional partners - Japan and Australia, but other countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and India, and the Philippines, experiencing another deterioration in relations with China, and are interested in its containment. Furthermore, Americans have a project to create a broad coalition with the participation of states not only regional allies, but France, Great Britain, New Zealand and Canada.

European countries, first of all, England and France, generally share the position of the United States. However, they also have their own interests in YUKM, based on the former colonial positions. So, France still owns the islands in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, why Paris is interested in expanding its influence in the waters YUKM.

Well, turn and Russia. Moscow's position has recently also undergone some changes. Before the Kremlin held a one-sided pro-Chinese orientation, even at the expense of relations with other countries of Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. for example, after the decision of the Hague international arbitration in 2016 , Russian President Vladimir Putin openly backed China. Now, however, the position of the Russian Foreign Ministry, declared in 2018 of the year, that Moscow is not going to create any alliance with Beijing, It begins to level off towards a more pragmatic course. Russia is developing relations not only with China, but also with Vietnam, The Philippines and other Asian Pacific countries. An important role is played here by the fact, that the presence of our country in the South China Sea is minimal, and territorial conflict there does not apply directly to Russian interests. Nevertheless, Russian leadership realizes the importance of building and strengthening bilateral relations in the area of ​​the globe, as well as increasing its role and influence in the "general climate" of the region.

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Vladimir Putin, acting president of Russia

If we talk about international organizations, the, eg, The UN, through its International Court of Arbitration in The Hague as early as 2016 g. He opined, China has no "historical rights" to the islands in YUKM. Since the position of this influential international organization has not changed.

"Big Seven", which includes Germany, USA, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Canada, at 2017 year called for the demilitarization of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. it, first of all, It affects the interests of the Middle Kingdom, Others are trying to actively assert its sovereignty over the islands through the placement of military bases. Beijing has condemned this statement, calling it interference in the territorial disputes in the region.

An important role in resolving the conflict in the South China Sea plays a position of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The international organization since the end of last century, attempts to resolve the territorial conflict. AT 2002 year she was able to work with China to sign the "Declaration on Conduct of Parties in YUKM", which included resolution of all territorial disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law. Then began a long preparation of the Code of Conduct of Parties, which was to become the main instrument for the resolution of any conflicts and contradictions. AT 2011 year, China and ASEAN have even signed a document entitled "Principles, relating to cooperation in the disputed areas YUKM ", It is the first step to the creation of the Code. However, on the matter and has not moved.

This was prevented as the position of Beijing, strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific region and provide economic pressure on other countries in the region, and contradictions within the organization. So, Vietnam and the Philippines have taken anti-China stance. Cambodia, which is one of the Chinese partners, He refused in the past to include in the joint statement of the item on the contradictions with it. All this prevented the states of ASEAN united front to oppose the rise of China in YUKM. However, the US is now actively pushing these countries to more firmly defend their positions, so in the future the situation may change.

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Member States and the ASEAN partners

Speaking about the development of the situation in the foreseeable future, it should be noted the views of the majority of experts. they believe, that the territorial conflict does not turn into a full-fledged armed conflict in the South China Sea. This will prevent a strong economic interdependence between all countries in the region. Hot conflict will make any profit from the war much less significant, than the potential costs, including political. Respectively, territorial dispute will continue as a fairly accurate standoff, not amounting to a significant deterioration of the situation.

The very same resolution of the territorial dispute in YUKM largely depends on, Will China be able to find a permanent allies in the region. Yet their role pull only North Korea and Cambodia, which, but, It is not sufficient to fully support the positions of potential superpower. If this does not happen, the Celestial risks being alone in front of a broad coalition of powerful European powers and their regional opponents and can get into a situation, similar to the situation of the Russian Empire during the Crimean War 1853-1856 years. In this case, Beijing will be doomed to defeat and frustrate its naval ambitions.

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Map of the Crimean War. In a similar situation in the future may prove to be China

Thus, the situation depends on, whether the United States will be able to collect the grand coalition and to rely on it in the solution of the territorial dispute in its favor.

As you can see for yourself, there are a lot of assumptions and scenarios. Currently, the territorial dispute in the South China Sea is one of the main sources of instability in the Asia-Pacific region, which has a direct impact on the global economy. Engaging in it makes US YUKM in another area of ​​confrontation between two powerful nations for control over the entire region, that tomorrow can become an important part of the world. Despite the best efforts of the PRC, territorial dispute has already acquired the status of international, and in our opinion, It can be resolved only through multilateral negotiations with the participation of all interested States, suggesting their willingness to make concessions.

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