The South China Sea borders China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Brunei and Cambodia – all of which claim parts of the area.
The sea, which accounts for about 40% of the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade, is also home to a rich array of marine life and geography. An estimated $3.4 trillion worth of trade is conducted through the sea, adding to its geopolitical importance.
Beijing claims ownership of more than 90% of the South China Sea. It has often referred to a “nine-dash line” area that it says was drawn back in 1947.
While the world was distracted by the coronavirus, China held a five-day military drill in disputed areas of the South China Sea, exchanging fire with Philippine, Vietnamese and Malaysian forces.
On July 14, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a statement: “China has never sought to establish a maritime empire in the South China Sea, and has always treated the littoral countries as equals.”
That statement is false.