The Manila Livewire reports a lot of story about the tensions between China and The Philippines over disputed territory.

But there’s one argument that we don’t tend to address. The name of the body of water where the contested islands are located.

Is it the South China Sea? or the West Philippine Sea?

South China Sea is the term used in English for the sea, but it is sometimes called by different names in China’s neighboring countries, often reflecting historical claims to hegemony over the sea.

Eighteenth Century Map 2
Source: Wikimedia

In the sixteenth century Portuguese sailors called it the China Sea, later needs to differentiate it from nearby bodies of water led to calling it the South China Sea. The International Hydrographic Organization which charts the world’s waters refers to the sea as “South China Sea.

Meanwhile the West Philippine Sea is a new nomenclature, coined by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, and it doesn’t cover the entire South China Sea.

South China Sea claim

In September 2012, Aquino signed an Administrative Order, mandating that all government agencies use the name “West Philippine Sea” to refer to the parts of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Chinese government claims most of the South China Sea, near the Spratly islands where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

The name South China Sea doesn’t make it China’s territory, just like the Indian ocean is not owned by India or the gulf of mexico is not owned by mexico.. but it’s still a hotly contested title.

We want to know how you feel about the debate. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.