Publication Details

Schofield, C. (2013). Increasingly contested waters? Conflicting maritime claims in the South China Sea. In L. Buszynski & C. Roberts (Eds.), The South China Sea and Australia’s Regional Security Environment (pp. 8-12). Canberra: National Security College.

Link to publisher version (URL)

ANU – South China Sea Research Paper


The South China Sea is host to a complex coastal geography, numerous sovereignty disputes over islands featuring multiple claimants, excessive and controversial claims to baselines, confl icting and overlapping claims to maritime jurisdiction and, most recently, contested submissions regarding extended continental shelf rights. The objective of this paper is to review and analyse these issues from spatial, legal and geopolitical perspectives. An overview and assessment of the geographical and geopolitical factors that inform and underlie the South China Sea disputes is offered prior to the claims of the littoral states to baselines and maritime zones being assessed. Maritime boundary agreements and joint development zones are also highlighted. Finally, indications that maritime jurisdictional claims are being more vigorously enforced are explored.