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South China Sea Chaos

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    5th May, 2020

A United States Navy warship conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" aimed at challenging China's claims in the South China Sea, the second such operation in as many days near disputed islands that the US has accused Beijing of militarizing.

Context

A United States Navy warship conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" aimed at challenging China's claims in the South China Sea, the second such operation in as many days near disputed islands that the US has accused Beijing of militarizing.

Background:

  • The move came amid a rise in US-China tensions over the novel coronavirus epidemic, in which Washington has accused Beijing of hiding and downplaying the initial outbreak after the virus emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
  • The US State Department had earlier said China was taking advantage of the region's focus on the coronavirus pandemic to "coerce its neighbours".
  • Recently, China sought to further advance its territorial claims when it announced that the Paracel and the nearby Spratly Islands, Macclesfield Bank and their surrounding waters would be administered under two new districts of Sansha city, which China created on nearby Woody Island in 2012.
  • It also announced official Chinese names for 80 islands and other geographical features in the South China Sea, including reefs, seamounts, shoals and ridges, 55 of them submerged in water.
  • It also established a "mental-health facility" in Mischief Reef, which has been declared by the international tribunal in The Hague as within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
  • China stakes its claim to the sea on its controversial nine-dash line demarcation; a 2,000 kilometre (1,242 mile) U-shaped dashed line that first appeared in maps of revolutionary China in the 1940s.
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