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When discussing the issue of territorial claims in the South China Sea, one should take the conglomerate of diverse phenomena influencing the specifics of thereof into account. The acts of aggression observed among some participants of the dispute, the growing global importance of China, and the contest for fossil fuels are only some of the problems expected to play extraordinarily important roles here. Any potential dispute of a military character in the region would undoubtedly have an overpowering influence on global economy, and would lead to disturbance of the current geopolitical balance. The specific role played by China in the East Asia makes all territorial claims being often considered in the context of the so-called ‘Chinese threat,’ contributing to the growth of apprehensions among the neighboring countries. The struggle for access to natural resources, however, seems to constitute the crucial field of conflict in the South China Sea area. International provisions on maritime borders do not specify the dependency of certain territories which additionally complicates the problem.
The South China Sea is a waterbody of total area of 3 537 000 km. In its northwestern part, in the distance of only ca. 300 km to the south from the Chinese island Hainan and 250 km from the coast of Vietnam, lies the archipelago of Paracel Islands, the key subject of dispute between Beijing and Hanoi.
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