China is resisting multilateral negotiation efforts over South China Seas disputes
The dispute in the South China Sea is even more complex. Drawing on ancient maps and historical accounts, the Chinese and Taiwanese insist that the sea’s two island chains, the Spratlys and the Para- cels, were long occupied by Chinese fisherfolk, and so the entire region belongs to them. The Viet- namese also assert historical ties to the two chains based on long-term fishing activities, while the other littoral states each claim a 200-nautical mile EEZ stretching into the heart of the sea. When com- bined, these various claims produce multiple over- laps, in some instances with three or more states involved—but always including China and Taiwan as claimants. Efforts to devise a formula to resolve the disputes through negotiations sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASE- AN) have so far met with failure: While China has offered to negotiate one-on-one with individual states but not in a roundtable with all claimants, the other countries—mindful of China’s greater wealth and power—prefer to negotiate en masse.
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