Category: South China Sea

Stormy Seas: The South China Sea in US-China Relations

In this book chapter, Kacie Miura and I examine the role of the disputes in the South China Sea in the evolution of US-China relations.

Based on an examination of American and Chinese views of each other’s role in these waters over the last decade, we argue that the dispute has increased the scope and intensity of security competition between the United States and China. Each side now views the SCS disputes as a litmus test for the other’s intentions—for China, whether the US seeks to contain it; for the US, whether China seeks to overturn the existing regional order.

It appeared in a terrific volume on US-China relations edited by Avery Goldstein and Jacques De Lisle, After Engagement: Dilemmas in U.S.-China Security Relations.

Read the chapter here.

Opportunism in the South China Sea?

A number of recent analyses have emphasized that China is seizing pandemic-created opportunities to improve its position in the South China Sea as other countries are distracted or otherwise unable to respond.

A key implication of such claims is that absent the pandemic, China would have acted differently and perhaps with more restraint.

In a new piece for the Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage, I argue that China’s actions in the South China Sea so far in 2020 reflect a continuity of its approach to assert historic rights and to challenge the exclusive rights that Malaysia and Vietnam should enjoy in their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Threading the Needle: The South China Sea Disputes and U.S.-China Relations

In a chapter in a recently published edited volume, Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of China, I examine how the United States and China have managed the South China Sea disputes in their relations with each other.

First, actions by the United States and China have often created incentives for the other state to push back, creating negative spirals.

Second, China and the United States have enhanced their positions in the South China Sea.

Third, actions taken by both sides have helped to shield the broader relationship from tensions and competition in the dispute.

Read the chapter here.