Dangerous Waters: Exercise Caution
May 30, 2011
Tensions have been rising in the South China Sea due to a number of recent assertive actions by Chinese vessels in waters also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Hanoi and Manila have protested the harassment of survey ships and the discovery of materials that might indicate Chinese plans to claim an uninhabited atoll west of the Philippines’ Palawan Island. China has rejected these protests and reasserted its alleged “indisputable sovereignty” over about eighty percent of the South China Sea. China’s expansive interpretation of its rights is based primarily on a historical claim that is not recognized as legitimate under international law or by treaty.