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Spratly Island Essay Sample

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Spratly Island Essay Sample

The Spratly Islands are a disputed group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays, and islands in the South China Sea.[5] The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia (Sabah), and southern Vietnam. They contain less than 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of land area spread over more than 425,000 square kilometers (164,100 square miles) of sea. The Spratlys are one of 3 archipelagos of the South China Sea which comprise more than 30,000 islands and reefs and which complicate governance and economics in that region of Southeast Asia. Such small and remote islands have little economic value in themselves but are important in establishing international boundaries. No native islanders inhabit the islands which offer rich fishing grounds and may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves. About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan (ROC), Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Brunei has also claimed an exclusive economic zone in the southeastern part of the Spratlys encompassing just one area of small islands on Louisa Reef. This has led to escalating tensions between numerous countries over the disputed status of the islands.The first possible human interaction with the Spratly Islands dates back between 600 BCE to 3 BCE. This is based on the theoretical migration patterns of the people of Nanyue (southern China and northern Vietnam) and Old Champa kingdom who may have migrated from Borneo, which may have led them through the Spratly Islands.[9] Ancient Chinese maps record the “Thousand Li Stretch of Sands”; Qianli Changsha (千里長沙) and the “Ten-Thousand Li of Stone Pools”; Wanli Shitang (萬里石塘),[10] which China today claims refers to the Spratly Islands. The Wanli Shitang have been explored by the Chinese since the Yuan Dynasty and may have been considered by them to have been within their national boundaries. [11][12] They are also referenced in the 13th century,[13][source needs translation] followed by the Ming Dynasty.[14][source needs translation]

When the Ming Dynasty collapsed, the Qing Dynasty continued to include the territory in maps compiled in 1724,[15][source needs translation] 1755,[16][source needs translation] 1767,[17][source needs translation] 1810,[18][source needs translation] and 1817.[19][source needs translation] But in 1904, Shanghai Publishing House printed the map named Map of all Chinese provinces, revealing that China stretched as far south as Hainan Island, and that the Paracel and Spratly Islands did not belong to China.[20] A Vietnamese map from 1834 also includes the Spratly Islands clumped in with the Paracels (a common occurrence on maps of that time) labeled as Vạn Lý Trường Sa (萬里長沙).

[21] According to Hanoi, old Vietnamese maps record Bãi Cát Vàng (Golden Sandbanks, referring to both Paracels and the Spratly Islands) which lay near the Coast of the central Vietnam as early as 1838.[22] In Phủ Biên Tạp Lục (Frontier Chronicles) by the scholar Le Quy Don, Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa were defined as belonging to Quảng Ngãi District. He described it as where sea products and shipwrecked cargoes were available to be collected. Vietnamese text written in the 17th century referenced government-sponsored economic activities during the Le Dynasty, 200 years earlier. The Vietnamese government conducted several geographical surveys of the islands in the 18th century.[22] Despite the fact that China and Vietnam both made a claim to these territories simultaneously, at the time, neither side was aware that their neighbor had already charted and made claims to the same stretch of islands.

[22] The islands were sporadically visited throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by mariners from different European powers (including Richard Spratly, after whom the island group derives its most recognizable English name).[23] However, these nations showed little interest in the islands. British naval captain James George Meads in the 1870s laid claim to the islands proclaiming a micronation called Republic of Morac-Songhrati-Meads. Descendants of Meads have continued to claim legitimacy over the islands, and continue to attempt to claim ownership of the island’s resources.[24][25][26] In 1883, German boats surveyed the Spratly and Paracel Islands but withdrew the survey eventually after receiving protests from Guangdong government representing Qing Dynasty.

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