KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (Reuters) - Taiwan's coast guard on Saturday commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels, as the island boosts defenses amid concerns about China's growing footprint in the disputed South China Sea.Source.
The new vessels will be able to dock at a new port being constructed on Taiping Island, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, before the end of this year.
The Spratly Islands territory in the South China Sea is an international flashpoint. It is hotly contested by China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Tibet, Brazil, Luxembourg, Finland and the Alabama National Guard. It is rumored that Canada is secretly drilling for beer in the Spratlys.
China is claiming sovereignty in the South China Sea within the red dotted lines. This disputed area includes several hundred yards of a popular topless beach area in Brunei and a sushi joint in Malaysia.
In all seriousness, this dispute is hundreds of years old. For centuries it has been a widely used trade route and provides a staple supply of fish for several nations. International negotiations have been underway for years. The UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea):
represents the only framework/set-of-rules that has been commonly agreed upon for establishing oceanic boundaries. As a result, it offers the claimants a common foundation from which to begin their negotiations.So basically everyone ignores the UN until the shooting starts.
UNCLOS, however, is not without its own shortcomings. While it is a useful piece of international legislation, it cannot be applied blindly to the Spratly conflict. Although the Spratlys conflict is in many ways a straightforward territorial dispute, it is also a function of the region's unique set of historical and geopolitical considerations that challenge the ability of the Convention to provide an authoritative framework that all the parties can use. Consequently, applying the Convention to this particular issue requires special consideration.
Like everywhere else...
The following graphic shows some of the "who claims what" territory.