Dispute in the South China Sea


The South China Sea is a part of the Pacific Ocean that borders on China and many other nations in southeastern Asia. There are hundreds of islands and atolls in the South China Sea, most of which are uninhabited .

Although it is not very populated many of the neighboring countries claim sea territory . Especially  China lays claim to large parts of the sea. Chinese experts say that over 200 billion barrels of oil lie under the seafloor, the biggest oil reserves outside the Middle East.

In the past few years conflicts have been going on between China and Vietnam. Both countries want the area in which the biggest oil fields are thought to be.  The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also demand parts of the South China Sea.

China and Vietnam have been arguing  for decades over who owns sea territory. In the 1970s China took control some of the islands in the region.  The conflict has heightened since the news of potential  oil and gas findings came out. Some days ago Beijing claimed  that Vietnamese fishing boats were  illegally in their waters

Disputed South China Sea

Disputed South China Sea


As China’s economy is booming the country needs more and more energy. Great reserves in their backyard would be more than welcome and make Asia’s largest economy less dependent on Middle East oil. On the other side, Vietnam and the Philippines may not be so interested in the oil and natural gas but in the South China Sea’s fishing grounds.

China insists that there is enough oil in the sea for everyone and  points out that Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines are already exporting oil.

The South China Sea is also one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.  It is becoming more and more crowded , so an armed conflict  between the countries involved would be a disaster for economy.

The United States might be dragged  into this dispute  as well. The world’s number one superpower has close ties with the Philippines and is expected to strengthen  their naval bases  on the islands if asked to do so.



Related Topics



  • although   = while
  • argue   = quarrel
  • armed conflict   = disagreement that leads to a war
  • atoll   = coral island that is shaped like a ring
  • backyard = very near to your country
  • barrel   = a large curved container with a flat top and bottom; it is used to store beer, wine, oil etc..
  • boom   = when business and the economy increases very strongly
  • border   = the line that separates two countries or areas
  • claim   = to say that you have the right to have or possess land or other objects
  • crowded   = here: more and more ships travel in the region
  • decade   = a period of ten years
  • demand   = want
  • dependent   = to need something very much
  • disaster   = catastrophe
  • dispute   = argument, disagreement, quarrel
  • drag into   = to get involved
  • especially   = above all
  • heighten   = increase, worsen
  • illegally   = not allowed, against the law
  • insist   = to say that something is true
  • lay claim   = you think you have the right to own something
  • naval base   = place where navy men live and where ships are stationed
  • point out   = show
  • potential   = possible
  • strengthen   = to make stronger
  • territory   = area
  • tie   = connection, relationship
  • uninhabited   = without people living there