The South China Sea dispute : a historical perspective
Date of Issue2016-03-23
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The purpose of this thesis is to critically analyse the materials brought forward by claimants to the South China Sea Islands when asserting their claims. A close examination of the historical evidence provided will show that such materials remains vague and inconclusive in determining who has actual sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea Islands. Furthermore, scholars tend to merely focus on one side and neglects the view of others. Scholars writing on such a topic must move away from solely analysing the materials given by one claimant and instead, analyse all materials by the claimants to have a comprehensive understanding of the argument that each claimant brings about. The advent of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides an alternative to countries merely using historical evidence to argue their case. Since 2013, the Philippines and Vietnam has brought the matter to the international court in a bid to find a breakthrough in finding a peaceful resolution to the dispute. Interestingly, China has rejected any hearings from the court and deemed it as invalid. Instead, China maintains its rhetoric that the South China Sea islands belong to them and that they have the historical evidence to prove it. This thesis thus examines the motivations behind China’s insistence on using historical evidence and concludes that the idea of nationalism and perceived past humiliations suffered plays a vital role. While motivations for China has remain consistent through the years, the same cannot be said for the Philippines and Vietnam where motivations to assert claims has changed throughout history due to a myriad of factors.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University