南海的確切位置是中國以南、菲律賓以西、越南以東、馬來西亞以北。周遭各個國家都稱自己是南海諸島的主權聲索國，台灣也主張擁有南沙群島主權。過往南海並沒有一個明確的捕魚或行為準則，只能仰賴《聯合國海洋法公約》。但此公約又不具有爭端解決強制力，所以現在美國和東協正在積極促成《南海行為準則》(South China Sea Code of Conduct)，以確保爭議地區的和平與安全。萬一發生什麼衝突，能立即透過這個行為準則將爭端國際化。不過目前為止中國並不積極參與行為準則的制定，反而持續在南海各島嶼部署更多海岸警衛隊和海上民兵船，菲律賓和越南都曾表達嚴正抗議。2022年新加坡舉辦的香格里拉對話亦將南海爭議搬上檯面，中國與會代表反向指責美國和澳洲插手干預南海主權。在各方皆積極發展海軍、擴大聯合軍演的情況下，南海的情勢預計將不會和緩。看2022
Time: Intensified since 2015
The exact location of the South China Sea is to the south of China, west of the Philippines, east of Vietnam, and north of Malaysia. The surrounding countries all claim themselves to be the sovereign states of the South China Sea Islands. Since 2015, these countries have started setting up bases on neighboring islands and even attacked fishing vessels of other countries. The Philippines even filed a lawsuit in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016, claiming that China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Philippines won the case.
China currently has military bases on many islands in the South China Sea and has repeated maritime clashes with Vietnam and the Philippines. In 2021, the Biden administration of the United States sees the South China Sea an important part of the Indo-Pacific strategy and has sent multiple aircraft carrier fleets to patrol the region which is now of heightened tension.
Taiwan claims sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.