How dangerous is the South China Sea?

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Both China and the United States emphasised the strategic importance of the South China Sea (SCS) in their recent official documents. China’s 2019 Defense White Paper stresses:

The South China Sea islands and Diaoyu Islands (pictured) are inalienable parts of the Chinese territory. China is committed to resolving related disputes through negotiations with those states directly involved on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law. China continues to work with regional countries to jointly maintain peace and stability. It firmly upholds freedom of navigation and overflight by all countries in accordance with international law and safeguards the security of sea lines of communication (SLOCs).

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