The international conflict regarding the South China Sea has been going on for several years. Several countries participate in disputes over this territory, including the People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. These unresolved issues are the main source of conflict in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, they have a significant impact on the development of international relations between the countries. Many researchers speak about the danger of such contradictions since they threaten stability not only in the region but around the world as well.
In the beginning, this conflict began as a slight confrontation, where the main roles were played by the Vietnamese and Chinese governments. One of the initial reasons for it was the question of who gets to control the Paracel Islands and Spratly islands located in the South China Sea. Step by step, the situation escalated as it became clear that underwater there are significant oil and gas resources. China slowly expanded its claims and ultimately declared about 80% of the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory in 2009. This decision aggravated the conflict as Vietnam and the Philippines opposed it.
The conflict between all parties intensified throughout the years as the stakes also grew. After all, there are numerous reasons for each side to pursue their agenda, aside from getting more oil and gas from under the sea. Another important reason is that in the South China Sea, there are routes that are essential for sea trade. The state that gains control over them automatically gets the opportunity to influence global economic and political processes. Furthermore, it would have an impact on the economic interests of not only Asian countries, but for the US as well since the country also uses those waters. The winner of the conflict is also likely to dictate his own conditions for the countries of Southeast Asia. For this reason, it becomes evident that this dispute has a clear strategic dimension. It would also be important to talk about the national significance of this issue. In the case where a country removes territorial claims can put the sovereign of a country under the question. In other words, it can be seen as a sign of weakness.
It is apparent that solving this dispute will not be easy as every side has something to lose. Moreover, the situation becomes harder as all countries are reluctant to address the issue or retract their claims. That is why it would be difficult to provide a conclusion that can bring peace for a long time. There is no doubt that some decisions can put the conflict to a temporary stop. However, there is a high possibility that it might be finally resolved by war. Nevertheless, several measures can be implemented to postpone this result.
For instance, demilitarizing the conflict seems like a reasonable solution since it will de-escalate the intensity in the relationships between the countries. This initiative can be implemented in order to transform the dispute into a political problem that can be resolved by a diplomatic solution in the future. Furthermore, a legal solution can also be effective for a certain period. For example, the International Court can find a short-term compromise. However, this method can work only in the case where all participants will follow the policies and guidelines provided by the Court. Another reasonable solution would be hosting frequent international meetings where every side can exchange information and provide ideas on how to resolve the dispute. It would be especially helpful since such events improve communication between countries and prevent misunderstandings and further problems.
In conclusion, it would appear that the reasons for the conflict mostly focused on territorial claims, natural resources and economic benefits. In addition, while some solutions can provide peace, for the time being, the result mainly depends on the leaders. In case if they could not achieve peaceful compromise during international meetings, the dispute may cause war.