Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The World's forgotten territorial disputes

Foreign Policy (FP) takes a look at the most important border conflicts the world forgot. From FP:
Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam

Area of dispute: The Spratly Islands, a cluster of more than 100 tiny reefs, islets, and atolls in the South China Sea, with a land area of less than 5 square miles.

Why it matters: Food, traffic, and oil. The Spratly Islands are one of the most heavily fished areas in the world. They’re also located in the center of the principle shipping route between Europe and Asia. And most lucrative of all are the untapped energy sources from the seabed below. China estimates that there are 17.7 billion tons of oil in the area, which would make it the fourth-largest oil reserve in the world.

Current status: The reasons for sovereignty claims are myriad: Some nations insist that they have historical ownership, while others say that geographical logic should prevail. All parties laying claim to the territory with the exception of Brunei maintain a military presence on the islands, despite a 2002 commitment (signed by all but Taiwan) to resolve differences by peaceful means. Although military confrontations have calmed down in recent years, the islands remain a hot-button issue in the region.
(Thanks Shy)

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