China’s Territorial Disputes

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Title: China’s Territorial Disputes
Authors: Saalbach, Klaus
Abstract: In August 2023, China released a new official map which showed territorial claims and a 10-dash sea line including the South Chinese Sea up to east of Taiwan. While almost all claims were already made in previous decades, the map refreshed these claims shortly before the 2023 meetings of the ASEAN group and the G-20. Chinas presents historical arguments and emphasizes that most of their claimed territory was lost under foreign and imperialist pressure in unfair treaties, when China was not in a condition to dispute them. The neighbor states respond with legal arguments, i.e., by reference to the internationally recognized borders and to the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) for sea claims. In the area known as South Chinese Sea, China was able to push through some claims by settlements and military presence on disputed islands. This working paper will present the territorial claims, the arguments, and the current status. Globally, the United Nations try to keep the internal relations peaceful and stable with an international rule-based world order. The border system of 1945 should be respected and borders should only be changed if both states agree while unilateral or enforced border changes would not be accepted. Even the successor states of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia used the former internal administrative borders. But nevertheless, attempts to redraw borders by force were continued after 1945 in many situations and were sometimes even successful which will be shown in this paper. The United Nations noted a global trend to contract exit and decline. Irrespective of UN resolutions, the United States legally acknowledged the 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights by Israel in 2019 and the 1975 annexation of the Western Sahara by Morocco in 2020 which was also acknowledged by Israel in 2023 to strengthen strategically important allies. Tactics to expand territorial control can include grey zone operations, salami-slicing strategies, ‘talk and take’-strategies, but also surprise attacks and occupations. In the South Chinese Sea, China and other countries work on artificial islands and military constructions. In future, not arguments but the ability to gain and to maintain physical and military control over a territory could decide border disputes.
Citations: Working Paper. Universität Osnabrück, Fachbereich 1 - Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Osnabrück 2023.
Subject Keywords: Geopolitics; Territorial Disputes; South Chinese Sea; UNCLOS
Issue Date: 13-Sep-2023
License name: Attribution 3.0 Germany
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Type of publication: Arbeitspapier [WorkingPaper]
Appears in Collections:FB01 - Hochschulschriften

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