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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In a press briefing on Monday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government has yet to get confirmation on China's operations of weather stations in the Spratly Islands. The Malacantildeang spokesman said these were "merely" news reports despite the Chinese Foreign Ministry's official announcement.
China, Vietnam and Taiwan claim all of the Spratly Islands, while Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines claim part of the chain.
'It seems that regardless of external factors, whether amid negotiations and relative calm or tensions and threats of violence, Hanoi is committed to a steady but modest expansion of its capabilities in and around the Spratly Islands,' it said.
In May, it was reported that China has installed anti-cruise ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles on its "big three" islands in the Spratly Islands.
Intense efforts by claimant countries to assert their territorial rights over the Spratly Islands have become an utmost concern not only to ASEAN but also to other countries like the United States and Japan, making the region a major flashpoint in Asia.
In May, Beijing reportedly deployed anti-cruise ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles on its three bases in the Spratly Islands. This followed reports that military jamming equipment have been installed on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.
(http://www.ibtimes.com/south-china-sea-dispute-timeline-history-chinese-us-involvement-contested-region-2158499) The Spratly Islands are small and mostly uninhabited, though countries have been lobbying for dominance in the region for decades as they sit in the middle of several lucrative trade routes and may also contain precious natural resources.
Specifically, the diplomat said del Rosario intends to inform Xi and Yang that Reed Bank, in the South China Sea, is an ''integral part'' of the Philippines, and not part of the disputed Spratly Islands as claimed by Beijing.
China's three largest fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands have runways, anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles and radar jamming equipment.
American television network CNBC reported that this is the first known use of such equipment since Beijing deployed electronic jamming equipment in the Spratly Islands.
Disputes over the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands have received the most press in recent years, as Beijing has been building (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/27/tensions-and-territorial-claims-in-the-south-china-sea-the-guardian-briefing) islands  on top of submerged reefs in order to make territorial claims.
As a result, a verbal crossfire ensued between China and the Philippines trading accusations as they try to assert their respective claims over the Spratly Islands.