Since 1947, the South China Sea has been a major area of dispute in Asia Pacific. Just last week, a clash between Vietnamese and Chinese vessels sparked violence near the largely disputed Paracel Islands. While China lays claim to roughly 80% of these oil and gas rich waters, there are overlapping areas of dispute with not one but five other countries - the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. China has recently chosen to make some major power moves in the region, not only reclaiming what is estimated by US officials to be 1,500 acres of land this year alone, but also began construction on several new artificial islands just last year. China insisted that “the islands would help with maritime search and rescue, disaster relief, environmental protection and offer navigational assistance as well as have undefined military purposes,” however with a reported $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passing through these waters every year, it is no wonder that the boundary disputes persist.

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