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On the rocks

South China Sea [LAND DISPUTE]

The South China Sea is peppered with disputed islands: China claims most of them. Some have value as fishing grounds or sources of energy deposits; others have only symbolic importance. For all their remoteness, competition for these tiny islands is intensifying. “The South China Sea is like a bathtub that’s being filled up by Chinese control vessels and other countries’ patrol vessels and submarines,” explains Carlyle Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defence Forces Academy.

Beijing usually has mili…



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