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    A New Kindergarten On A Tiny Island Is Beijing’s Latest South China Sea Incursion

    As public tensions between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed territory in the South China Sea simmer, Chinese authorities made a quiet incursion this weekend: construction began for a kindergarten and primary school on the remote, idyllic island of Yongxing, the largest of the Paracel Islands.

    The island, which China calls “Yongxing” (literally “eternal prosperity”), is less than one square mile in size, but it highlights one of the most contentious aspects of international law regarding who can claim what territory in the world’s oceans. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), signed by most of the Asian claimants involved in the South China Sea disputes, says that a state is entitled to explore and exploit all the natural resources within 200 nautical miles of its islands’ baselines via an “exclusive economic zone.” Unfortunately, the 1982 convention never laid out how to determine sovereignty over an offshore island.

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