Based on the International Hydrographic Organization’s definition of the maritime area, there are a total of seven claimants to the maritime features and/or waters of the South China Sea. These include Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

A few things worth noting, however, are that (1) Brunei claims an exclusive economic zone and claims – but does not occupy – one maritime feature; (2) Indonesia is often not considered a claimant because it has tried to distance itself from the disputes and it is unclear whether or not its claims overlap with those of others, and (3) Taiwan’s status remains the subject of some debate because of its de facto statehood without de jure recognition as a United Nations member state. For those reasons, some sources might suggest that there are less than seven claimants to the South China Sea.