Spratly Islands


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Spratly Islands,

group of about 100 low islands and coral reefs in the central South China Sea, intersecting busy shipping lanes. The whole group is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and parts are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. Brunei has established (1984) an exclusive economic zone encompassing Louisa Reef, but it has not claimed the islet. Various islands, valued primarily for the petroleum and gas potential of the surrounding waters and to a lesser degree for their fishing grounds, are occupied by their claimants. China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam all have forces there. There have been many disputes and some fighting, most notably between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in 1988 and 1992, and the Spratlys remain a source of tension among the claimants. A 2002 agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China called for all claimants to avoid activities that would heighten tensions over the islands, but China, Taiwan, and other claimants have nonetheless improved a number of the islands and reefs so that they can support airstrips and other facilities. A 2016 ruling under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in a case that was initiated by the Philippines against China rejected China's main basis for its claim to the islands, and judged that none of the islands met the criteria required to entitle any claimant to an exclusive economic zone.
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China started constructing the islands in 2014 by building up sand on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs around the Spratly Islands, and the airstrips on them were labeled as "military-length," anonymous U.
It even ruled that Itu Aba (Taiping Island), the largest land feature in the Spratly Islands, is a rock and not an island.
The Spratly Islands are also claimed, in whole or in part, by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Vietnam has protested against the plan by Taiwan to build an airport on the disputed Spratly Islands.
In addition, China has recently reached an agreement with Vietnam and the Philippines to conduct joint exploration in the disputed Spratly Islands.
Within three days, VP-8 located the stranded vessel 60 nautical miles off the Spratly Islands.
A recent report from the Philippines states: "Beijing uses negotiating tactics to keep neighboring governments hopeful of a peaceful compromise while the Chinese military continues to build up its permanent 'fortresses' in the Spratly Islands.
The Spratly Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam; parts of them are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines; in 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone, which encompasses Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands, but has not publicly claimed the islands.
There are few places in the world that provide a greater challenge to the dispute resolution mechanisms of the Law of the Sea than the South China Sea's Spratly Islands.
MANILA, Philippines Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef, one of Beijing's artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, has been transformed into a fortified airbase complete with military installations.
Analyzing satellite photographs, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said Beijing's Fiery Cross Reef base in the Spratly Islands now has 12 hardened shelters, four more than seen in February, with retractable roofs that can house missile launchers.