Second Thomas Shoal
Second Thomas Shoal, located in the north-eastern part of the Spratly Islands, has emerged as a contentious area in the South China Sea. The recent incident near Second Thomas Shoal escalated tensions between China and the Philippines. The Philippine Coast Guard accused China’s coast guard of harassment and dangerous maneuvers. China, on the other hand, claims that the Philippine coast guard intruded into its waters without permission. This ongoing diplomatic standoff underscores the complex nature of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Geographical Features and Territorial Claims
Second Thomas Shoal is a tear-drop shaped atoll, characterized by coral reefs and a surrounding lagoon with depths of up to 27 meters (89 ft). The shoal is situated in an area where China, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam assert territorial claims over parts of the Spratly group of islands. The presence of the US-built Philippine Navy landing craft, BRP Sierre Madre (LT-57), deliberately grounded in 1999, represents the Philippines’ claim to sovereignty.
China’s Claims and the “Nine-Dash Line”
China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea through its depiction of the “nine-dash line” on its maps. This line extends into the exclusive economic zones of neighboring countries. However, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 declared that China’s “nine-dash line” claim has no legal basis, challenging China’s expansive territorial assertions.
Month: Current Affairs - July, 2023