Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - The Sino-Philippine Border in the South China Sea: Scarborough Shoal at the turn of the 20th Century

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Magnolia, Lower Ground Floor

The South China Sea is currently an arena of a territorial conflict between China and the Philippines over the sovereignty of Scarborough Shoal occupied by Chinese forces in 2012 but Beijing’s claim was rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016. As both states have constructed claims on historical grounds, it is imperative to inquire into the historical narrative of borderland demarcation in the area. This paper analyses how and to what extent Scarborough Shoal was included by China and the Philippines as part of their claimed territory in the South China Sea by the turn of the 20th Century, and how this particular area has been imagined of re-imagined as a national frontier. The paper argues that the inclusion of this shoal into their respective national territory, was shaped by both the internal politics during the last years of the Qing Dynasty in China, and by the process of power relations between Spain and the United Stated before and after the 1898 Treaty of Paris demarcating the Philippine territory. The research also evaluates to what extent the making of the frontier and borderland around the Scarborough Shoal is also a product of modern interpretation of historical sources, and how the nature of this bilateral conflict since the early 1990s has shaped the narrative of frontier and borderland making between China and the Philippines, with both political and legal implications for the future.

Ulises Granados

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, Mexico

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2 - The Sino-Philippine Border in the South China Sea: Scarborough Shoal at the turn of the 20th Century



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