Gulf of Tonkin

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A part of the South China Sea bounded in part by China and Vietnam, and containing island groups disputed between these and other countries, the exact boundaries and territorial waters within the Gulf of Tonkin is still in dispute. Two island groups in the waters have no natural population, but the Paracel Islands, claimed by China and Vietnam, are partially occupied by Chinese military forces. The Spratly Islands are completely claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, with portions claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.

Tensions have somewhat reduced, without boundary resolutions, by agreements for joint economic development.

The area in the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 1964, however, is generally accepted as including Vietnamese territorial waters and international waters just outside it. A confusing naval engagement between North Vietnam and the United States served as the casus belli for the United States to begin the bombing of the North.