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  • Author or Editor: Mingjiang Li x
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It is important to note that the South China Sea (SCS) disputes are multi-dimensional and ASEAN is selectively involved in some aspects of these dimensions. There are at least four major dimensions that one can observe in the disputes. Setting the stage for the volume, Joshua Hastey and Scott N. Romaniuk, and then Romaniuk and Tobias Burgers address the major pillars of conflict and geostrategic interest in the SCS in this volume’s introductory chapters. The first dimension is about territorial sovereignty disputes among claimant parties over various land features in the South China Sea. ASEAN has stated explicitly that it does not intend to get involved in determining whose sovereignty claim is more legitimate. The second dimension has to do with the maritime area claims and maritime rights claims by the disputant parties. Although ASEAN has made it clear that it does not want to be an arbiter for maritime boundary demarcations, many of its statements do suggest that ASEAN attempts to uphold certain principles on how a claimant should legally and legitimately claim maritime zones and rights, for instance by constantly referring to the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in its numerous statements.

The third dimension pertaining to the maintenance of peace and security in the SCS includes many elements. Examples include proposing rules and norms to regulate various parties’ policies, urging all claimant parties to observe the overall status quo, keeping dialogue channels open, forging maritime cooperation, strengthening confidence-building measures, and even fostering limited preventive diplomacy. It is in the third dimension that ASEAN, together with China, has played the most salient role. The fourth dimension of the SCS disputes concerns the role of other external powers, especially the United States (US), in the disputes.

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