Small islands are often the source of dispute among countries near them. Several countries have been in conflict owing to their claims of ownership of islands with rich marine resources and great potential for gas and oil reserve.
In Asia alone, the Philippines, Vietnam and China are claiming some areas as theirs and this remains unsettled up to now. In fact, this has prompted the U.S. to make its stand amid the tension among the nations involved.
The Philippines and China are both in territorial disputes over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. The Philippines has called for international support amid this ongoing row. While the country has sent its troops to the shoal, China has also sent vessels to the area and word is out that the Chinese may be building an airstrip in the disputed reef. Philippine Navy members have arrested Chinese fishermen in the area several times for gathering marine species protected by the government.
Gas explorations are going on in the reef also known as Huangyan Island. It is also a rich fishing ground the reason why the Chinese often come here.
China has been claiming that it was the Chinese that discovered the shoal and that they have been fishing in the area ever since. The country insists that the reef lies within the nine-dotted line drawn on maps confirming its claim to the islands and surrounding areas.
The Philippines, for its part, has said its sovereignty over the reef is based on public international law specifically in accordance with the juridical criteria.
Japan and China are also in a row over territorial rights covering the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. The eastern part of the China Sea has become a popular source of territorial disputes involving Vietnam and the Philippines in addition to China and Japan.
Currently, Japan controls the eight small islands but China is claiming ownership. Based on international law, Japan has the right to the area.
Rising tension continues to be noted among the nations involved and with China’s insistence and assertiveness not faltering, the fear of an armed conflict taking place is also growing. This has also caused a rise in Japanese nationalism with the younger politicians making a stand to defend their country. Websites have been springing up that argue against WWII atrocities with controversial media such as Nanking massacre pictures.
The Case of Ukraine and Russia
Outside the Asian region, Ukraine and Russia are also in conflict over Crimea. The area being claimed is located on Black Sea’s northern coast. It is just south of Ukraine’s mainland and west of Russia’s Kuban region.
The issue is that the border is seen differently when viewed through Google Maps. For instance, Ukrainians who use Google.ua will only see a grey dotted line between Crimea and Ukraine and the borer is even hardly noticeable. The Russians, on the other hand, through Google.ru can see a black line which covers Crimea as part of their territory.
A representative of Google in Russia said the Google Maps team is doing their best to be objective in reflecting the boundaries of the disputed territories. He added they normally follow local laws when displaying borders.
When borders are not designated properly, this often results in disputes. Thus until today, countries such as China, Japan and the Philippines have yet to settle their territorial rights. And as to when that will happen, nobody knows.