Skip links

Facts About The South China Sea For Kids

The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around1,400,000 sq mi). The area’s importance largely results from one-third of the world’s shipping transiting through its waters, and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed.

  • It is located south of mainland China and the island of Taiwan, west of the Philippines, north west of Sabah (Malaysia), Sarawak (Malaysia) and Brunei, north of Indonesia, north east of the Malay peninsula (Malaysia) and Singapore, and east of Vietnam.
  • South China Sea is the dominant term used in English for the sea, and the name in most European languages is equivalent, but it is sometimes called by different names in neighboring countries, often reflecting historical claims to hegemony over the sea.
  • The International Hydrographic Organization refers to the sea as “South China Sea (Nan Hai)”.
  • The Yizhoushu, which was a chronicle of the Western Zhou dynasty gives the first Chinese name for the South China Sea as Nanfang Hai, claiming that barbarians from that sea gave tributes of hawksbill sea turtles to the Zhou rulers.
  • During the Eastern Han dynasty (23-220 CE), China’s rulers called the Sea Zhang Hai.
  • In Southeast Asia it was once called the Champa Sea AKA Sea of Cham, after the maritime kingdom of Champa that flourished there before the sixteenth century.
  • The majority of the sea came under Japanese naval control during World War II following the military acquisition of many surrounding South East Asian territories in 1941.
  • However, following an escalation of the Spratly Islands dispute in 2011, various Philippine government agencies started using the name “West Philippine Sea”.
  • Recent marine geophysical studies by Peter Clift has shown that the Red River Fault was active and causing basin formation at least by 37 million years ago in the NW South China Sea, consistent with extrusion playing a part in the formation of the sea.
  • According to studies made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines, this body of water holds one third of the entire world’s marine biodiversity, thereby making it a very important area for the ecosystem.
  • Competing claims include: Indonesia, China, and Taiwan over waters NE of the Natuna Islands The Philippines, China, and Taiwan over Scarborough Shoal.