Four Things to Know About the South China Sea Dispute

Territorial claims in the South China Sea have been contentious for centuries, but recent land reclamation attempts by China have made it a global security issue.

1. Six countries – China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan – all make claims to islands in the South China Sea.  These countries base their claims on history as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  UNCLOS gives nations “Exclusive Economic Zone” authority extending out to 200 nautical miles off their coastline.  The country has sole exploitation rights over natural resources in that EEZ.

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