China has said its right to the area come from 2,000 years of history where the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation. Vietnam rejects it as untrue and it claims to have actively ruled over both the Paracels and the Spratlys since the 17th Century and has the documents to prove it. Philippines claims due to its geographical proximity to the area.Malaysia and Brunei claim to territory , they say falls within their economic exclusion zones, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982.
Dispute is primarily due to its mineral wealth as Chinese estimate puts possible oil reserves as high as 213 billion barrels - 10 times the proven reserves of the US while US scientists estimate them at 28 billion barrels.EIA says the real wealth of the area may well be natural gas reserves estimated at about 900 trillion cubic ft.Military confrontation between China and the Southeast Asian nations, backed by the US, is a serious concern.“All parties have much to lose, not only militarily, but also economically.”
, Vietnam wants to build a bloc against China, which would include Malaysia and the Philippines. US has strengthened its relations with both Vietnam and Philippines and is backing them in dispute “You are seeing this bloc slowly forming, which is another problem for China. What’s happening now is the US is getting involved as the senior partner in an anti-China bloc — this is how Beijing sees it.”
Taiwan has first to resolve problem of sovereignty with Beijing than any other issue as it was formerly a part of China in history.“Chinese leadership know full well that they need to avoid getting sucked (or suckered) into such scenarios.“China has much to lose from such petty squabbles and knows full well that it needs to keep a low profile in international affairs for at least another generation in order to get its own house in order first.”