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163 5 The South China Sea Dispute1 The South China Sea dispute (1992 to present) is a long-standing and ongoing maritime sovereignty dispute involving China, Taiwan and the ASEAN states of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Tensions over the region’s waters have fluctuated since the Cold War period, with instances of conflict linked to a variety of factors, including surging economic growth and corresponding military modernization in China, enhanced competition for maritime resources, China’s status as a rising power, increased great power

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PART I Claimants of the Contested South China Sea

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Cross-National Perspectives

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.

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the great dramas of the twenty-first century” ( Ikenberry 2008 : 23). Despite the countervailing discourses from some Chinese political elites who advocate a more pacifist tone, some Western scholars, pundits, and policy makers warned that China’s political ascendancy is inevitably dangerous ( Mearsheimer 2006 ; Regilme 2019 ; Regilme and Parisot 2020 ). This sense of insecurity is felt more increasingly in the Southeast Asian region, where many of the smaller countries have traditionally depended upon the US leadership and security guarantees. The South China Sea

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Introduction In January 2016, Tsai Ing-wen, the candidate for the Democratic Progress Party (DPP), won in Taiwan’s presidential election and was inaugurated as the 14th-term president of the Republic of China (“ROC”) in May of the same year. The new Tsai government adopted a foreign policy position of “cutting off Mainland China, following the United States [US] and Japan, and catering to ASEAN,” 1 which affects the planning and development of Taiwan’s South China Sea (SCS) policy under the Tsai administration. In July 2016, Taiwan announced that the award

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The United States has no territorial claim in the South China Sea and does not take a position on the sovereignty of any of the geographic features in the SCS, but has urged that disputes be settled without coercion and on the basis of international law. 1 Introduction The United States (US) has been a presence in East Asia since the early part of the 19th century. Over the decades that role grew, until, by 1945, Washington found itself the dominant power in the region. Since that time, regional powers have risen and fallen, but the US remains a

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Introduction Australia is not an active participant in the South China Sea (SCS) dispute and at first sight its distance from the area may give the impression of irrelevance. However, the dispute has consequences for Australia’s geopolitics in a way that is increasingly being recognized within government and the wider security community. In essence, the notion of geopolitics relates to the impact of geographic location on security and the formulation of policy, and how governments react to and devise policies towards their immediate security environment

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Introduction The South China Sea (SCS) – a semi-enclosed sea 1 – is one of the world’s key shipping routes and richest fishing grounds. Shared by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines, the SCS also sees one third of global trade pass through its waters. 2 The SCS is also known for its high economic value. It is rich with high value marine life, particularly demersal fish and tuna, and significant deposits of hydrocarbons trapped beneath the Kalayaan Island Group’s (KIG) seabed. The overarching maritime dispute in this

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Introduction The South China Sea has once again become a flashpoint for conflict between China and some ASEAN states, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam. It has also strained relations between China and the United States (US). China’s recent position of growing more assertive in advancing its claims has raised tensions and risked the militarization of competing claims by other states including the US and its allies. The diplomatic impasse between China and the ASEAN claimant states, as well as within ASEAN has, furthermore, made the situation less

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importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea [emphasis added] [and] … call on all parties to avoid the threat or use of force and pursue resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The direct reference to the South China Sea (SCS) was among the first of its kind in a heads-of-government level

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