ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the origin of the South China Sea (SCS) dispute, and provides a brief introduction of the SCS. It offers an overview of the People’s Republic of China (PRC's) original position on the South China Sea, which is basically a straightforward sovereign claim to the land features in the South China Sea. The chapter reviews the new communist regime's attitude to international law and international regimes, which set the initial tone for the PRC's negotiating position in the third UN conference on the law of the sea in 1971. In addition to marine living resources, the SCS is thought to contain abundant oil and natural gas reserves, a prospect of vital interest to energy-importing countries around the region. In the pre-1971 period, the SCS was the subject of a dispute mainly between two governments: the government of the People's Republic of China and the government of the Republic of Vietnam.