China and the South China Sea
The year 2020 is an important one for China and the South China Sea, as the country continues to push its claims of sovereignty over the disputed waters. China and the Philippines have been in a long-standing dispute over the South China Sea, with Beijing claiming that the area is part of its exclusive economic zone, while Manila insists that it has the right to exploit the natural resources within the sea. This dispute has been a source of tension between the two countries for decades, with no resolution in sight. The South China Sea is a critical economic and strategic area located in the western Pacific Ocean, bordered by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. The sea is important for its fisheries, oil and gas reserves, and its many shipping lanes, which carry over $3.37 trillion of trade each year. In recent years, China has sought to strengthen its grip on the region, building artificial islands and military bases and installing military equipment. This has led to increased tension in the region, as other countries fear that China is attempting to control the area. In 2020, China has continued to take steps to strengthen its control over the South China Sea. In January, the Chinese government released a new maritime law, which gave it greater control over the region. This law requires all vessels sailing in the sea to obtain permission from Beijing, and gives China the power to stop ships and search them for contraband. The Chinese government has also increased its presence in the sea, deploying more ships, planes and submarines to patrol the area. In addition, China has been engaging in regular military drills in the region, and has conducted exercises involving its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. These moves have been criticised by the US and other countries, who view them as a sign of aggression and a threat to regional stability. The Philippines has been a vocal opponent of China’s activities in the South China Sea, and has taken multiple steps to counter the Chinese presence in the region. In June, the Philippine government announced that it would deploy more ships and aircraft to the sea, and has also taken steps to strengthen its maritime security capabilities. In addition, the Philippines has filed multiple cases with the United Nations’ Permanent Court of Arbitration, challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea. The court ultimately ruled in favour of the Philippines, finding that China had violated its international law obligations with regards to the sea. Despite these efforts, the dispute between China and the Philippines remains unresolved. Both countries continue to stake claims to the South China Sea, and tensions remain high. The situation is made even more complex by the fact that the US has been increasingly involved in the region, conducting freedom of navigation operations and other activities in the sea.
US Involvement in the South China Sea
The US has been increasingly involved in the South China Sea region in 2020. In February, Washington sent two aircraft carriers to the sea, in what was seen as a show of strength towards China. The US has also conducted freedom of navigation operations, in which it challenges China’s control over the region by sending navy vessels to sail through the area. The US has also been involved in the dispute between China and the Philippines. In April, the US sent a warship to the area, in a show of support for the Philippines. The US has also conducted joint military exercises with the Philippines in the region, and has provided the country with military aid and support. The US’s involvement in the South China Sea has been met with criticism from China. Beijing has accused Washington of meddling in the dispute, and has warned the US to stay out of the region. Despite these warnings, the US has continued to assert its presence in the area, and there is no sign that it will back down anytime soon.
The dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea has been an ongoing one for decades. In 2020, the situation has become more complex, with the US becoming increasingly involved in the region. China has continued to take steps to strengthen its control over the region, while the Philippines has sought to counter the Chinese presence. Despite the efforts of both countries, the dispute remains unresolved, and tensions continue to remain high in the region.