The South China Sea is Not a Flashpoint

Brendan Taylor
Content Type
Journal Article
The Washington Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Spring 2014
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Two important anniversaries arrive in 2014 for protracted South China Sea disputes. January 19 marked 40 years since Chinese and Vietnamese forces clashed over the Paracel Islands, resulting in the deaths of more than 50 Vietnamese personnel and an undisclosed number on the Chinese side-at least the second — largest loss of life to have occurred in any single incident involving these disputed waters. Late 2014 will also mark 20 years since China controversially built structures on the aptly named Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, prompting a further series of incidents at sea. Recent reports that China has moved large concrete blocks to Scarborough Shoal—yet another disputed reef that was the scene of an April 2012 standoff between Chinese and Philippines vessels—have sparked concerns in Manila that history is repeating.
Political Geography
China, Philippines