Part of the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea is a marginal sea encompassing an area stretching from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan, roughly 3,500,000 square kilometers. It is surrounded by six countries, namely China, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia. The area is important as 60 percent of the world's shipping sails through its waters and it is believed to hold roughly 280 to 300 billion tons of oil and 7,500 square kilometers of gas reserves under its waters. Because of its economic and geographic benefits, the six countries that surround the South China Sea all claim sovereignty and are constantly in dispute over the body of water. China has gathered substantial historical reasons for its right to the area and has even constructed an artificial island on the South China Sea. Because of China's actions, the Philippines have sought legal actions since 2013 by bringing territorial issues to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). Recently on July 12, 2016, the court finally came to conclusion after 3.5 years. The Court agreed with all of the Philippines’ 15 claims. In other words, the PCA denounced China’s right to ownership of the area as well as its constructions of an artificial island on the water. After the PCA announcement, the United States has strongly recommended China follow the PCA’s decision, and the US has also deployed an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea. In response, the Chinese government has ordered its troops to be put on special alert. The heightened tension between the United States and China is a concern for all nations in the area.
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