South-China-Sea

Follow the Fish: Considering Options in the South China Sea

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Nearly four months after the landmark UNCLOS arbitration ruling in the case brought by the Philippines against China, President Rodrigo Duterte’s about-face in his approach to the Philippines’ bilateral disputes with China has dominated regional discussion. While this attention is entirely warranted, it has also meant undue neglect of other dimensions of the ruling and its regional effects. All the South China Sea disputes, including the bilateral one between the Philippines and China at the Scarborough Shoal, are importantly about regional fishing rights. President Duterte’s focus on regaining access to the traditional fishing grounds at Scarborough Shoal has highlighted that… Read More »Follow the Fish: Considering Options in the South China Sea

Taiwan’s Policy Evolution after the South China Sea Arbitration

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On July 12, 2016, an arbitral panel constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) delivered its merits and award in the case brought by the Philippines against China over disputed territory in the South China Sea. In response to the decision, Taiwan’s government stated, “We absolutely will not accept the tribunal’s decision and we maintain that the ruling is not legally binding on the ROC [Republic of China].” Despite this initial rejection of the ruling, President Tsai Ing-wen approved a new South China Sea policy that does not directly challenge the arbitration decision. This… Read More »Taiwan’s Policy Evolution after the South China Sea Arbitration

The Implications of China’s Seizure of a U.S. Navy Drone

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On December 15, the latest incident between the United States and China in the South China Sea occurred. This episode involved China’s seizure of an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) operated by a U.S. naval auxiliary ship, the USNS Bowditch. The UUV, a glider that is part of the Littoral Battlespace Sensing system, was being used to collect oceanographic data, such as water temperature and salinity. The incident occurred as the Bowditch was about to recover the drone. Instead, a Dalang III–class Chinese naval submarine salvage and rescue ship, the ASR-510, launched a small craft and seized the drone. China returned… Read More »The Implications of China’s Seizure of a U.S. Navy Drone

Non-claimant Perspectives on the South China Sea Disputes

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The January 2016 issue of Asia Policy, a peer-reviewed and policy-relevant academic journal published by The National Bureau of Asian Research, features a roundtable on non-claimant states’ perspectives and interests in the South China Sea disputes. Non-claimant Perspectives on the South China Sea Disputes Tiffany Ma, Michael Wills, Rory Medcalf, Abhijit Singh, Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, Yoji Koda, Lee Jaehyon, Jane Chan, Alice D. Ba, Mathieu Duchâtel, and Thomas B. Fargo Raising the Stakes: The Interests of Non-claimant States in the South China Sea Disputes Tiffany Ma and Michael Wills Rules, Balance, and Lifelines: An Australian Perspective on the South China Sea Rory… Read More »Non-claimant Perspectives on the South China Sea Disputes

Beyond the UUV Incident: Challenges in the South China Sea for the Trump Administration

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The December 2016 incident involving a U.S. unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) was neatly wrapped up on December 20 after China returned the vehicle. Despite diverging legal interpretations, the management of the event reflected the political willingness of both countries to keep the South China Sea dispute under control and in a careful balance so that the situation does not escalate into a military confrontation. However, whether this balancing act might continue in the Trump administration remains to be seen. The debate on the presence of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the South China Sea might add to this uncertainty.… Read More »Beyond the UUV Incident: Challenges in the South China Sea for the Trump Administration

Forecasting the South China Sea Arbitration Merits Award

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Prediction is difficult—especially about the future. Niels Bohr’s words ring true when it comes to the case brought by the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China over their differences in the South China Sea. It is with caution, then, that this analysis forecasts the minimum findings likely to be reached by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in its decision on the merits in this case under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The PCA decision in the jurisdictional phase of the proceedings, delivered last year, was refreshing in its straightforward… Read More »Forecasting the South China Sea Arbitration Merits Award

A Code of Conduct for the South China Sea: Effective Tool or Temporary Solution?

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Until 2013, the conflict in the South China Sea had been managed mainly through implementation of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC). The DoC requires the parties to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability in this area. At the 9th ASEAN-China Joint Working Group meeting in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, in September 2013, both sides agreed to give new impetus to the negotiation of a code of conduct (CoC) for the South China Sea. Since then, the massive land reclamation… Read More »A Code of Conduct for the South China Sea: Effective Tool or Temporary Solution?

The U.S.-China Battle in the Post-Arbitration South China Sea: Diverging and Converging Interests

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One incident after another has played out across the stage of the South China Sea since 2009, the year Malaysia and Vietnam filed a joint submission on the limits of their continental shelf claims with a UN commission. The tension in the South China Sea further escalated in January 2013, when the Philippines initiated an arbitration proceeding against China under the dispute resolution terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Since then, land reclamation activities and protests in response, the legal battle between China and the Philippines, a series of U.S. freedom of navigation… Read More »The U.S.-China Battle in the Post-Arbitration South China Sea: Diverging and Converging Interests

The Role of History and Law in the South China Sea and Arctic Ocean

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The law of the sea regime is in the early phases of a significant shift and subject to increased tension in its central normative structure. This has been the case many times historically, with each phase of the law moving in a path-dependent fashion through different international political environments. Though the law of the sea today has greater impact and causal effect on strategically driven state conduct than at any other point in history, evidence for this emerging change in the maritime legal regime is materializing in several key domains. Major states are now grappling with how to reason with,… Read More »The Role of History and Law in the South China Sea and Arctic Ocean

The Role of Energy in Disputes over the South China Sea

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The intensifying disputes over control of the South China Sea are ultimately rooted in disagreements over national sovereignty, territorial control, and the rising power of China as it intersects with the existing East Asian maritime security order dominated by the United States. That said, within this broad context there are different layers of competition that act as multipliers for rising South China Sea tensions. Competition for control of potential energy resources and key energy transit routes through the South China Sea and Malacca Strait stands out as one critical factor that has heightened the stakes in the complex matrix of… Read More »The Role of Energy in Disputes over the South China Sea