This volume has provided a broad assessment by experts of the complex political and security challenges that arise from highly divergent national views on the South China Sea (SCS). But it is evident that there is no consensus among the claimant states regarding the future of the SCS, nor among external stakeholders. This volume will most certainly not be the last word on a dispute that has endured decades, and that is likely to stretch deep into the 21st century without a comprehensive settlement or resolution.
From the defeat of the Empire of Japan by the United States (US) and its wartime allies in 1945 until the 1974 expulsion of Vietnamese armed forces from the Paracels, the SCS was a peripheral international issue in a world dominated by the security challenges of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. As noted by John Callahan in Chapter 12, the US Navy (USN) was largely unchallenged in the SCS waters, while China possessed only a modest coastal naval force.
The rise in Chinese economic power allowed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to devote funding to building a blue-water navy and, through massive dredging operations, to expand islets or to create islands from atolls or rocky outcrops of the sea, and to build on these features extensive naval, coast guard, and air force installations. However, as noted by Stein Tønnesson in the Foreword, none of the other SCS claimant states possess the means to compete successfully with China in terms of military capacity.
This volume brings together international experts to provide fresh perspectives on geopolitical concerns in the South China Sea.
The book considers the interests and security strategies of each of the nations with a claim to ownership and jurisdiction in the Sea. Examining contexts including the region’s natural resources and China’s behaviour, the book also assesses the motivations and approaches of other states in Asia and further afield.
This is an accessible, even-handed and comprehensive examination of current and future rivalries and challenges in one of the most strategically important and militarized maritime regions of the world.