The Recent History of the South China Sea: A Timeline
The Recent History of the South China Sea: A Timeline
Interactive / Asia

The Recent History of the South China Sea: A Timeline

The South China Sea has long been a critical maritime passage, means of supply and trade route that was fought over by many claimants. Today the South China Sea is once again a 21st century flashpoint.

Many claimants contest maritime boundary demarcations in the South China Sea, from fishing communities, to states abutting the body of water, to international powers concerned about rights of passage, to international institutions trying to establish global rule of law. This brief chronology highlights major events since the first armed clash in 1974, through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1994, China’s extensive claims according to its “nine-dash line” in 2009, and the standoffs in 2021 over fishing rights between China and the Philippines.


Crisis Group’s work on the South China Sea is collected here, including a three-part series in 2021 to include an overview of competition for the area, and separate studies of the topic from the perspectives of the Philippines and Vietnam.