Map key
  • China
  • Philippines
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Brunei
  • Malaysia

Disputed Waters

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, center, reviews nautical charts aboard a Taiwan Navy ship before it sets out to patrol in the South China Sea from the naval base in the south.

Taiwan (Republic of China)

As with China, Taiwan claims sovereignty over all the island groups in the South China Sea and jurisdiction over adjacent waters: Spratlys (Nansha), Paracel (Xisha), Pratas (Dongsha), Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha). Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba and various other names, is the largest formation within the Spratlys. Currently administered by the Taiwan, it is also claimed by China, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Taiwan controls

Itu Aba Island (Taiping): since 1946
Pratas (Tungsha): since 1947

Map of Taiwan and the South China Sea

Principal economic interests

Fishing: One of the world’s biggest seafood exporters, Taiwan is home to the world’s largest fleet of longline tuna vessels, whose estimated 753,000 metric tons of seafood generated $1.6 billion in 2015.
Oil: A 12-mile EEZ surrounding Itu Aba is believed to hold significant reserves of oil and natural gas.

Regional infrastructure

  • Small runway, visitor center, a command post, radar tower and several smaller buildings on Itu Aba.

Recent VOA headlines

July 20, 2016: Taiwanese fishing boats flying national flags prepare to leave for the Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island from Taiwan’s southern port city of Pingtung. In Taiwan – one of six sides with territorial claims in the South China Sea – eight legislators from the ruling and main opposition parties flew aboard an air force transport plane Wednesday to Taiping Island, Taiwan’s sole holding in the disputed Spratly Island chain. (Central News Agency via AP)

Timeline of events