"Pearls of the Emerald Sea" - so poetically the Chinese press has long called islets and atolls, usually of coral origin, located in the South China Sea. To travelers who visited these secluded corners of the earth in good weather, they really could seem the epitome of idyll. However, the military-political situation developing around the islands is not calm. Two groups of these islets, reefs and atolls - the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands - have been the subject of an international territorial dispute for many years; they are claimed by the PRC and Vietnam, while the Philippines claims the island groups and reefs of the eastern part of the Spratly Islands, and Malaysia and Brunei claim the southern part. The name "Spratly Islands" would obviously be more accurate to refer not to any particular group of islands, but to a huge elliptical area near the coast of the Philippines and Malaysia in the southwestern part of the South China Sea, stretching from northeast to southwest for more than a thousand kilometers. Previously, before the Second World War, this area, in which more than a hundred small island objects are scattered, was called Coral Islands, and in China - Tuanypa Qiundao. Now in China it is called Nansha Qiundao, in Vietnam-Kuandao Truongsha, and in the Philippines - Calayana (meaning only the northern part of the area, where the main part of island objects is located). With all the many island objects in the area, there are only nine islands, as defined by the international law of the sea, and the largest of them - the island of Itu-Aba-has an area of 0.42 square kilometers. As for the Paracel Islands, called in China Xisha Qiundao, and in Vietnam-Kuandao Hoansha, located 200-300 kilometers from the coast of Vietnam and from the Chinese island of Hainan, the total area of all 15 islands included in them is only three square kilometers. No island of either group has ever had a permanent population. The South China Sea plays an important role in in ... Read more

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China Online
Beijing, China
07.04.2024 (99 days ago)
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