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Regarding the on-going South China Sea dispute, Philippine President Aquino III told AFP during an interview in April that in recent years, the Chinese government has been conducting a series of land reclamation projects on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. This has hindered other countries to enter the international waters in the South China Sea and blocked fishing grounds.

According to the satellite images taken in the beginning of this month, China has built a third runway on the disputed islands in the South China Sea. All this has led to the South China Sea dispute becoming a point of discussion in Chinese President Xi Jin-ping’s meeting with US President Barack Obama on September 25.

The South China Sea Islands consist of the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Pratas Islands and the Macclesfield Bank. The Pratas Islands are controlled by the ROC while the Scarborough Reef of the Macclesfield Bank fell from the hands of the Philippines into those of China in 2012. The Paracel Islands were taken by China from the Saigon regime of South Vietnam in 1974.

The Spratly Islands is the southernmost of the four islands. They also have the most reefs scattered among a total area of 820 thousand M². This is where the South China Sea territorial dispute is about.

CNA reports, Obama pointed out in his meeting with Xi that he expressed his concerns of China constructing on reefs and militarizing the areas of conflict. He also emphasized every country is allowed freedom in commercial navigation and aviation.

On the other hand, Xi reiterated China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and that the constructions in the Spratly Islands are not directed towards nor do they affect any country. He insists on controlling the dispute through conversation and supports the freedom of navigation and aviation of every country on the basis of international law.

Researcher at the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica Song Yann-huei says China is pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative economic strategy. The Maritime Silk Road includes the countries surrounding the South China Sea and with China is bound to continue to control the South China Sea with its developing related national security strategies. The US might also adopt even tougher policies regarding the South China Sea and the conflict will continue to rise under these circumstances.

Translated by Olivia Yang