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Wan Shawaluddin Wan Hassan


The Spratly archipelago is made up of about 100 islands, coral reefs, shoals, atolls, and sand pits covering 160,000 square km, with the biggest, Itu Aba, about 600 acres.r Because ofits vast size and uninhabitable nature, no coastal state has been able to effect pqrmanent settlement or exercise effective control over more than a small portion of the islets and the surrounding sea area. This encourage claims and counter claims made on the archipelago. The Spratlys are the most contested of the islands group in the SouthChina Sea. There are six counkies directly claiming ownership ofthe islands. The countries arethePeople's Republic ofChina, Republic ofChinaorTaiwan, Republic ofVietram, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. China and Vietnam are claiming the whole archipelago. Meanwhile the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are only claiming part ofthe islands. Apart from the claimant states, the Spratly struggle also concerns the major powers. This paper focuses on the interests of the major powers which includes the United States, Soviet Union/Russia, Japan and China. What interests do the major powers have on the Spratlys? And to what extend do the major powers would respond if it falls to a prospectus enemy? Major powers rivalry has been a main feature in Southeast Asia since the end of the Second World War. Spratlys, during the Cold war clearly shows that it is an arena for the major power rivalry that involves China vs vietnam (backed by Soviet union). I argued that during the post ColdWarperiod, withthe decline ofthe SovietUnion andtheUnited States withdrawal from the region, china is been left to fill the power vacuum. china is beginning to turn itself into a great power in the region. Since it is the only power involved directly in the dispute over the Spratlys, it is testing othermajorpowers immediate reaction to its use of force on the other claimants.


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