China and Neighbourhood

Conflict in the “South China Sea‟

0 126

The dispute in the „South China Sea‟ is, as widely known, a multistate affair. Cook (2011), in an interview with Ian Storey, showed that tensions have been escalating in this area since around 2007. In majority, it is two sets of islands (atoll and reef chains), the Paracel‟s and Spratly‟s (including a number of submerged shallow islands) that are at the centre of this multinational dispute. Key players include China (the PRC mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau), Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. Notable secondary actors include the USA, ASEAN, Indonesia, Thailand, the UN, EU and Singapore. These key players have, over the past 4 years, been escalating disputes over a number of key issues which are: a build-up of militarism and a lack of diplomacy by all except Brunei (especially in the Spratly‟s); access to oil, natural gas and other minerals; access to lucrative fisheries; control over lucrative lanes of trade; defining national territorial waters versus identifying international waters; objections by China for the involvement of secondary actors in the dispute (Anonymous, 2010; Buckley, 2011); the Beijing Consensus being used against China and the Washington Consensus using war-games to flex its muscles; Taiwanese sovereignty; and overall mixed signals from each key player (the PRC, for example, expressed goodwill for the region yet also continued the development and deployment of blue water naval ships and the offloading of materiel in the Spratly‟s).

There is something of a stew of growing nationalism at present (such as the Philippines renaming the „South China Sea‟ to the „West Philippine Sea‟: see Cheng 2011 for more). We see, in another example, Vietnam passing a conscription bill which is in many ways worrying. However, I feel that the likelihood to this dispute mounting to serious violence to be an exaggeration (an opinion that is widely shared in the extant literature). What this rise in nationalism will do, rather, is hinder regional cooperation and collective growth. Violence would do untold harm to China‟s efforts for global goodwill and South-South relations (i.e. trade, research and culture swaps) which it has been building over the past 20 years. Cheng (2011) adds to this reasoning as China has restated its com-mitment to a non-violent resolution to the conflict (see also Anonymous, 2011). We also have to consider the diplomatic efforts that have been making inroads through the Treaty of Amity of Cooperation, the Dec-laration of Conduct and the „South China Sea‟ Work-shop as barriers to violence.

Overall, it comes down to what many commenta-tors have been saying for some time: focus on di-plomacy, do not play to nationalist currents at the expense of other citizenries and the ASEAN+3 re-gion, and work on a friendly and cooperative strat-egy for the betterment of the region. This paper will try and provide a small prescriptive measure for realistic progress to be made in that direction.

Origins & Evolution
It would be a very difficult undertaking, although a greatly interesting one, to try and map the his-tory of „South China Sea‟ disputes between states bordering that Sea. The focus here is rather on the last ten years.


Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 2 No. 3


About the author / 

CESRAN Int.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

CESRAN Blog

  • 24th Issue is Online Now!

    Vol. VI | No. III – July-August-September 2020 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 05-14….. World News by Ebru Birinci 17-24….. Preparedness for an Uncertain Future “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” by Professor Mark Meirowitz 25-39….. EU LAW vs UK LAW The Primacy of EU Law over National Law:…

  • IEPAS2020 is Going Virtual!

    Dear Friends and Colleagues, IEPAS2020 is Going Virtual! Due to the COVID19 pandemic, we are holding our entire conference virtually by streaming all of the live sessions. You may participate in all of our virtual networking events. In case of missing a session, you may get full access to the replays of every session since all…

  • The 13th issue of JCTS (Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security) is out now…

    The 13th issue of JCTS (Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security) is out now… Vol. 8 | No. 1 | 2020 Click here to Download the Entire Issue   TABLE OF CONTENTS Editor’s Note By David Curran Introduction By Nergis Canefe Research Articles Statelessness as a Permanent State: Challenges to the Human Security Paradigm By…

  • The 19th Issue of The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development is Out Now!

    The 19th issue of the rest: journal of politics and development is out now. Download the issue here… TABLE OF CONTENTS Research Articles Turkish AK Parti’s Posture towards the 2003 War in Iraq: The Impact of Religion amid Security Concerns By Alberto Gasparetto Nigeria and the Great Powers: The Impacts of the Boko Haram Terrorism on…

  • CESRAN International Named again amongst the Top Think Tanks in the World

    CESRAN International is pleased to announce that it has been named again amongst the world’s best think tanks. The 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked CESRAN International 141st among the World’s “Top Think Tanks in Western Europe” 75th among the World’s “Top Environment Policy Think Tanks” 153rd among the World’s “Top Foreign Policy…

  • THE 18TH ISSUE OF THE REST: JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND DEVELOPMENT IS OUT NOW.

    The 18th issue of the rest: journal of politics and development is out now. Download the issue here… TABLE OF CONTENTS Research Articles The Foreign Policy Decision Making Approaches and Their Applications Case Study: Bush, Obama and Trump’s Decision Making towards Afghanistan and the Region By Sharifullah Dorani Evaluating the Explanatory Power of Social Identity Theory,…

Newsletter