China and the Philippines are having an argument over Scarborough Shoal, a few islands and reefs in the South China Sea. It started on April 8, when a few Chinese fishing boats were spotted near the shoal. The Philippines said that the Chinese boats were illegally fishing since the shoal belongs to the Philippines. The Philippines sent its war ship to the area, which was followed by China sending a couple of its ships to protect the Chinese fishing boats. China claims that Scarborough Shoal belongs to China.The situation cleared up and the fishing boats were allowed to return to China. However, a few days later, the Philippines complained that its research ship near the Scarborough Shoal was stopped by a Chinese ship. China says that the research ship was illegally in the area since the shoal belongs to China.
This isn’t the first time the two countries have argued over the shoal, and it’s not the only area in the South China Sea that the two countries have ownership disputes about. In fact, there are other countries that border the South China Sea that also have ongoing disputes about islands in the South China Sea. The disputes are not just about the islands. There are also arguments about what part of the “water body” belongs to which country. There is an international law defined by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea that says that countries own a 200 mile (320km) zone around their coasts. Not all countries agree with this Law. China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam all border the South China Sea and have overlapping areas of the water body they claim as theirs. Now why would countries want to fight over water? The seabed contains oil, minerals, and natural gas, which add to the country’s wealth. The waters also have fish which is a valuable resource. In addition, there are important shipping routes through the South China Sea.Image Credits: U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Nestor Cruz for the Tinkling image; US Institute of Peace for South China Sea image; Joe Mabel for Lion Dance image
The Philippines is a land of islands (over 7,000), mountains, rain-forests, hot & humid climate, coconuts, mangoes, volcanoes, and lots of languages! It has also been named as the “Texting Capital of the World”. Filipinos are famous for sending many text messages. A local dance is the tinikling – two people tap bamboo poles while some people dance stepping over the poles.
China is the country with the most mobile phones in use – over a billion! A traditional Chinese dance is the Lion dance, where two people dance while wearing a single lion’s costume.
Did You Know?
Philippines is approximately the 70th largest country in the world, but it is the country with the 4th longest coastline.