Four prominent pre-Neogene regional unconformities are recognized. Extension in the South China Sea basin since the Mesozoic, has been approximately uniform from west to east. A suite of palinspastic reconstructions has been prepared, which shows the evolution of the South China Sea area from the Late Triassic to the Pliocene. The reconstructions illustrate (1) the convergent continental margin setting of the North Palawan Block during much of the Jurassic and Cretaceous; (2) the Late Cretaceous inception of the Philippine island-arc system; (3) the subsequent counter-clockwise rotation of the arc system from the late Eocene onward; (4) the Paleocene to middle Miocene opening of the South China Sea; and (5) the early to middle Miocene collision between the North Palawan Block and the Palawan subduction system.--Modified journal abstract.

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