Here are China’s goals in the South China Sea region
Just to borrow the title of a book/novel and the name of a Hollywood movie: “Clear and Present Danger” : Is the Aggressor China ?
“Getting some ’breathing space” out of all these?” Look at the “Bigger Picture”
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Back to the current dispute, and China currently the People’s Republic of China (PRC) it was founded 1949 after defeating the Republic of China (RoC) which had drawn the 11 dash lines, so China, the PRC, shared the same belief as the RoC when it produced its 9 dash lines, and why did the RoC drawn their 11 dash lines?
Even during the reign of the Qing dynasty, patriotic Chinese, out of such weakness against the Qing rulers as well as during the period when China was bullied by ‘the world’ had defended the South China Seas territories then, even out of such weakness. India, Malaysia, Singapore etc were British colonies, Vietnam was French, the Philippines colony of the USA, all those people were under colonial rules and they were submitting to their respective colonial rulers. Such was the historical picture.
Now, after WWII the RoC had been saying that they had taken back those territories from the Japanese, they even said “with the help of the USA”, are they lying now or the USA is lying? Did the British, the French, the American take back those islands form the Japanese after the war, and had their disputes with the RoC China after WWII, we see any historic disputes over that? India independence 1947, Malaysia (with Singapore) independence was 1963, Vietnam was Sept. 1945, some months after WWII, the Philippines on July 4, 1946. Did their former colonial masters make any claims on the South China Sea?
I am not here to debate China’s claim, I more like to merely say that China has such belief and not as some thief making lies and false claims as an excuse to conquer some places.
China’s goal is to maintain its sovereignty over an area it believes belongs to China from the Qing dynasty, to the RoC and now the PRC, that’s the national pride part of this. The earlier claims were made before anyone had taken any interest in the resources under the sea bed, or so worried about sea passage rights etc. China’s current actions has been more focused on the map I had put above at the front of my answer.