TheSouth China Sea disputes involve both island and maritime claims among severalstates within the region, namely People’s Republic of china, Indonesia, Brunei,Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The dispute includes Spratly Island,Paracel Island and various boundaries in the gulf of Tonkin. About 6 trillion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas, ormore than half of global LNG trade, passed through the South China Sea in 2011.Half of this amount continued on to Japan, with the rest of it going toSouth Korea, China, Taiwan, and other regional countries.
Almost 75% of all LNGexports to the region came from Qatar,Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia. All these country are in the organization Associationof Southeast Asian Nations therefore Singapore also can directly involve inthis topic The Republic of Singapore is deeply concerned over theongoing South China Sea territorial dispute, which can lead to war betweenASEAN member states and China. On the South China Sea maritime dispute, we donot take sides on the merits of the respective claims, because each country hasits explanation and its reasons and its historical narrative of why it has agood claim, and its legal basis. Singapore’s economy depends heavily on trade.
For that reason, the freedom of navigation is crucial, and the South China Seais one of our four key trading sea lines of communications. We know that wewill affected by the freedom of navigation. Hence, it is a very serious matterfor us. Even if Singapore does not claim any part of the South China Sea, butas one of ASEAN member; our country seek to resolve this issue through peacefulmeans, in accordance with international laws, including the UN Convention onthe Law of the Sea, Code of Conduct, Treaty of Amity of Cooperation, Zone ofPeace, Freedom, and Neutrality, and other international instruments which serveas peace purpose. AlthoughSingapore does not claim any part of the South China Sea, it has stronginterests in the stability of the region. Singapore’s economy depends heavilyon trade and is highly sensitive to interference to the freedom of navigation in allinternational sea lanes. Stability in the South China Sea, which is a maritimearea close to Singapore, is therefore vital to Singapore’s economic interest.
As a small state, Singapore places great value in thecollective voice of ASEAN in its engagement with major powers and internationalforums. Intra-ASEAN hostilities have the potential to split the Association.Furthermore, having developed close diplomatic relations with China, Singaporewill inadvertently be affected if the disputes do not reach a peaceful settlement. Singapore does not favor one claimant state over theother, but urges disputants to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner.In Mr. Shanmugam’s words, “from Singapore’s perspective…, it doesn’t matter whoowns which islands, but where there are disputes, we want it to be dealt within a way that doesn’t lead to ships confronting each other, shots being fired,increasing kinetic conflict”. In the case of our agenda, since most of theclaimants are reluctant to resolve the sovereignty issue through any of theapproaches, a permanent solution is unlikely to achieve for the time being.
However, temporary solution is possible. Solution can be obtained whenclaimants’ interests are attended to. Comparing to the interest of sovereignty,the other two interests are comparatively easier to accomplish, namely securityof sea lanes and exploration of natural resources. First, stability andsecurity of the South China Sea are necessary for the economic development ofall claimants. Second, previous efforts of all claimants have laid foundationto further carry on negotiations cooperation on issues except territorialclaims. In this regard, China’s proposal of setting aside dispute will be awise choice for all claimants.