New Delhi: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the country’s formal rejection of “most” of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea Monday.
This comes after China increased military presence in the region following the coronavirus pandemic began.
While the US does not claim rights over any territory in the region, it supports the claims of various Southeast Asian countries and has historically supported it by conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea.
The Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands (or Xisha Islands) are the two primary contentions in the sea. The first is a dispute between China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei while the second is between China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Russia is one of the few to have resolved its territorial disputes with China but ended up yielding Argun, Amur, and Ussuri rivers, Zhenbao Island (or Damansky Island), Bear Island (also known as as Bolshoi Ussurisky or Heixiazi Dao) and countless other lands.
This happened through three border agreements signed in 1991, 1994 and 2005 by Beijing and Moscow.
However, many more such disputes continue on and ThePrint takes a look at the 17 primary territorial conflicts between China and other Asian countries.
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Taiwan: While China lays claim to the entire region of Taiwan, it has specific disputes with the country over the Macclesfield Bank, Paracel Islands, Scarborough Shoal, parts of the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands.
In June, Chinese fighter planes reportedly entered Taiwan’s air space thrice. Earlier, in March, a Taiwanese patrol vessel was rammed into by Chinese fishing boats near Kinmen islands.
The Philippines: Another major maritime is between the Philippines and China. The two countries are sparring over the Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands. While China has offered to negotiate, Philippines has said these territories are non-negotiable and have always been part of their country. The US backed The Philippines on the issue Monday.
Indonesia: Indonesia and China are also fighting over the Natuna Islands and other parts of the South China Sea. In January, Jakarta accused Beijing of illegally fishing in waters around the Natuna Islands and using intimidating island-patrol tactics.
Vietnam: China claims that large parts of Vietnam, especially the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and parts of the South China Sea, belongs to it. In April, the Chinese Army sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel near Vanguard Bank prompting it to lodge an official protest.
Malaysia: Malaysia and China are fighting primarily over the Spratly Islands. In April, Chinese “maritime militia” vessels started shadowing West Capella, a Malaysian drill ship conducting exploration activities off the country’s coast. When China dismissed Malaysia’s objections, US and Australian warships entered the disputed waters. The Chinese vessels eventually left the sea.
Japan: Meanwhile, the country is sparring with Japan over the Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu Islands) and Ryukyu Islands. When Japan started integrating the Senkaku Islands, China warned against it in June and increased its naval presence in the area.
South Korea: South Korea and China are in a conflict over the Socotra Rock (Ieodo or Suyan Rock) in the East China Sea. South Korea claims within its Exclusive Economic Zone and has previously been troubled by Chinese presence in the region.
North Korea: The Sea of Japan is the main border conflict between China and North Korea. Both countries share a 1,400-km-long border and relations between them strained after China enhanced diplomatic relations with South Korea.
Singapore: Even though they entered a maritime collaboration in June 2019, Singapore and China have disputes over some parts of the South China Sea. On 4 July, Singapore’s PM wrote an article saying US’ presence “remains vital to the Asia-Pacific region” amid rising Chinese military presence.
Brunei: Brunei and China’s dispute is over southern parts of the sea and some of the Spratly Islands.
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China has also been involved with several land disputes with its neighbouring countries and recent times have witnessed an escalation of attack by China.
India: India and China clashed violently at the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh on 15 June, which is part of the disputed Aksai Chin region. The clash left 20 Indian soldiers dead and several injured. The PLA also reportedly suffered casualties.
China has also staked claim on parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Nepal: China has a long-standing dispute over parts of Nepal that it claims are Tibet. In June, China annexed Rui village in Nepal, claiming it as part of Tibet.
Bhutan: It also claims to own a large chunk of eastern Bhutan including areas like Cherkip Gompa, Dho, Dungmar and Gesur. On 5 July, China stated that it has a border dispute with Bhutan, for the first time since 1986.
Laos: The communist country also alleges that it owns large parts of Laos on historical precedent dating back to the Yuan Dynasty.
Mongolia: Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region within Mongolia, has also been involved in a territorial dispute with China but the last border flare-up between the two regions was in 2015.
Myanmar: China and Myanmar share a 2,185-km-long border based on a 1960 agreement. However, two weeks ago, Myanmar accused China of creating trouble on the border and instigating terror groups.
Tibet: Perhaps China’s most decisive land dispute is the one with Tibet. In 1950, China enforced a long-held claim on the Himalayan country and incorporated it with its own territory. Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his followers were forced to flee to India, where they have set up a government in exile.
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