FAST FACTS: Why South China Sea is world's 'most important' sea route

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2019 05:28 PM

MANILA - Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday gave a rundown on why China has been trying to claim the entire South China Sea, sidelining the rights of the Philippines and 4 other claimants.

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Here are some reasons why the disputed area has been dubbed as the world's "most important" sea route, according to Carpio:

  • About $5.3 trillion in goods are ferried through the South China Sea annually
  • The Natuna islands, the region's largest gas field, is located within the South China Sea
  • 65 percent of petroleum imports from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan pass through the South China Sea
  • 50 percent of China's oil imports are shipped through the South China Sea, and the other half is sourced through a pipeline submerged in the same water way.
  • It covers 2.5 percent of the world's oceans, but accounts for 12 percent of global fish catch
  • The total amount of fish hauled from the South China Sea amounts to $21 billion

"If you own a small island in the middle of the South China Sea then you also own the sea around it, 12 nautical miles. That's 155,000 hectares or twice the size or Metro Manila," Carpio said.

"That's why there is a mad rush for all coastal states to grab as much small rocks as they can," he said.