Highlights

Recently Government of Philippine has decided to resume oil exploration in the South China Sea. This decision of Philippines Government was taken without consulting People’s Republic of China.

Points To Note

  • Rodrigo Roa Duterte President of Philippine, formally approved the lifting of a 6 year moratorium on oil exploration in the Palawan Island (largest island in the Palawan Province).
  • The area where exploration would resume lies within the Philippines exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • The petroleum-related activities will resume in 3 offshore areas.

Backdrop

In 2014, moratorium on oil exploration was imposed. It was imposed in the light of tensions between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China because of their overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China’s stand

The People’s Republic of China expressed that it hope the 2 countries would cooperate for joint exploration in future. Both China & Philippines had reached the consensus on the joint development of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea and had also established a cooperation mechanism.

About South China Sea

South China Sea is a marginal sea in the Western Pacific Ocean. South China Sea is enclosed in the north by the shores of South China, in west by the Indochinese Peninsula, in east by the islands of Taiwan and northwestern Philippines while in south by Borneo, eastern Sumatra and the Bangka Belitung Islands (Province of Indonesia). It connects to the East China Sea through the Taiwan Strait, connects to the Philippine Sea through the Luzon Strait (strait between Taiwan and Luzon island of the Philippines) while to the Sulu Sea through the straits around Palawan (Archipelagic Province). It also connects the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca. Java Sea connects to it through the Karimata Strait and Bangka Strait.

Importance

South China Sea have huge economic and geostrategic importance. It gives passes to the One-third of the world’s maritime shipping through it. Thus, the region encompasses over $3 trillion trade single year. South China Sea have a huge reserves of oil and natural gas beneath its seabed. It also comprises lucrative fisheries that ensures the food security in Southeast Asia for many.

Dispute of South China sea

Many countries have made territorial claims over the South China Sea and so the dispute in the region is regarded as the Asia’s most dangerous point of conflict. China & Taiwan claims the entire region as their own by demarcating their claims within the nine-dotted line. Other claims include:

  • Republic of Indonesia, China, and Taiwan claims the waters NE of the Natuna Islands
  • The Republic of the Philippines, China, and Taiwan claims over Scarborough Shoal.
  • Vietnam,  People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan have dispute over waters west of the Spratly Islands.
  • All of the islands are also disputed between Vietnam,  People’s Republic of China,, Taiwan, Brunei (tiny nation), Malaysia, and Republic of the Philippines.
  • The Paracel Islands is claimed by three nations China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  • Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam claim the areas in the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Singapore and Malaysia claim the Strait of Johore and the Strait of Singapore.

Philippines to restart mining in South China Sea Philippines to restart mining in South China Sea