Archaeology and China’s claims to the seas

Philippine ship run aground on the Second Thomas Shoal. Source: Today 20150506

Underwater archaeologist Michael Flecker talks about the archaeology of the Spratley islands and how archaeology may help defuse arguments by China over the South China Sea.

Philippine ship run aground on the Second Thomas Shoal. Source: Today 20150506
Philippine ship run aground on the Second Thomas Shoal. Source: Today 20150506

Archaeology could wreck China’s sea claims
Today, 06 May 2015

No country has demonstrated that they have historical rights to the Spratlys, simply because it is, and always has been, Dangerous Ground, a place to avoid at all costs. China’s claim to a large chunk of the South China Sea on historical grounds does not seem to be indisputable.

But perhaps this is just as evident to China as it is to me. Perhaps, it is only a game that will have served its purpose once the islands have been created and the military facilities have been built and manned. Perhaps then China will happily participate in bilateral or even multilateral discussions, with the history card taken off the table.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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