Poverty in the Paracel IslandsLocated in the South China Sea between Vietnam and China, the Paracel Islands is a group of more than 30 islands. They are also known as the Xisha Islands in China and the Hoang Sa Archipelago in Vietnam. The Paracel Islands have been relatively unknown in the past, but have recently been brought to the world’s attention.

Despite the naval battle between China and South Vietnam in January 1974, which was followed by China winning total control over the archipelago, there are many ongoing disputes and conflicts regarding the “ownership” of the South China Sea. This is one of the causes of  poverty in the Paracel Islands.

In fact, many Southeast Asian countries are making claims to South China Sea, including China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, which has created high levels of conflicts and stress in the region. The U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) declared that countries with high levels of conflict usually tend to develop severe poverty.

As the report reveals, countries targeted by conflicts, like the Paracel Islands, have their population most vulnerable to financial issues such as price shocks and natural disasters. One of the main natural disasters that the Paracel Islands are exposed to are typhoons, which lead to instability in the region.

While many Asian countries debate over ownership of the island, the population size within the region is growing, complicating any future armed conflict. However, the Paracel Islands are already too crowded and ongoing conflicts weaken the potential of those islands. The growing population also means there is the need for new infrastructures to be built and new resources to be cultivated.

The several causes of poverty in the Paracel islands are mostly due to the ongoing disputes. Competing countries should take into consideration the economic needs of the islands to avoid any major crisis. A peaceful solution is essential to limit the damage caused towards the people of the Paracel Islands.

Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr