South China Sea: Waters of Contention

In this site you will find stories about the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, written by VERA Files as well as articles by experts on the subject which, we think, will help in understanding the various facets of that vast, important area being contested by several countries.

Video from Philippine Coast Guard
Map from UP Asian Center Primer on West Philippine Sea

Some basic facts about South China Sea:

Area: Around 3,500,000 square kilometers (1,400,000 square miles).

Location: Online maps show the South China Sea is in the Southeast Asia part of the western Pacific Ocean. It is in the south of China, east and south of Vietnam, west of the Philippines and north of the island of Borneo.
The Spratly Islands form an archipelago in the South China Sea composed of over 100 islands, islets, cays, atolls and reefs. The Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan claim parts of the archipelago.
It is reported to hold huge oil and natural gas reserves and a rich fishing area. One-third of the world’s maritime trade, estimated to be worth US$3 trillion, passes through it every year.


File photo of Ayungin Shoal from Philippine Navy FB page (July 20, 2020)
VERA Files Fact Check: An ad hoc arbitral tribunal, not the ICJ, ruled on the case of the Philippines against China which did not cover territorial sovereignty issues.
Chinese Coast Guard ship (white) was caught on cam firing a water cannon at a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel (black) on Dec. 9 near Bajo De Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea. The incident happened during BFAR’s oil and grocery supply mission to Filipino fishing vessels near the shoal. (Photo grabbed from a video posted on Dec. 12 by Philippine Coast Guard’s official Facebook page.)
Ian Jasper Tabios talks about the changes he noticed in Scarborough Shoal and their home in Barangay Calapandayan in Subic, Zambales since the Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea. (Photo by Joanna Rose Aglibot)
Photo from Gerald Ford Ticke
Raquel Valerio WPS story