Troubled waters: conflict in the South China Sea explained

Written by John Rennie Short. A United Nations arbitration court will soon rule over the sovereignty of islands in the South China Sea, a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines with global implications. In recent years, China has been asserting claims in the region and has built up atolls and islands to be large …

How the push to unite South-East Asia against Chinese expansionism could backfire

Written by Scott Edwards. After years of rising anxiety, China’s push for dominance in the South China Sea is still rattling nerves among its neighbours, and in the world beyond. Beijing’s territorial claims and its military assertiveness have inflamed tensions with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, all of whom lay claim to territory on …

British Defence Secretary speaks out on South China Sea

Written by Alex Calvo. Going beyond the British Government’s cautious posture to date, Her Majesty’s defence minister, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, said that “When it comes to China we’re clear”, stating that while London wants to “work more closely with” Beijing, with the purpose of binding the PRC “into the rules based international …

South China Sea arbitration: Manila rearms and concludes fisheries agreement with Taiwan

Written by Alex Calvo. The 29 October decision by the international arbitration tribunal on jurisdiction and admissibility of the UNCLOS arbitration case launched by the Philippines against China has rightly been interpreted as a victory for Manila. The Court unanimously decided that it had jurisdiction concerning seven of its fifteen claims, with a decision on …

Under the sea: Russia, China and American control of the waterways

Written by Simon Reich. In the summer of 2007, in a bizarre incident shown live on Russian television, scientists accompanied by a couple of senior politicians descended 4,300 meters to the floor of the Arctic Ocean in two Mir mini submarines. Divers then planted a Russian flag on the seabed, and Russia officially notified the …

US and Chinese tempers rise in the South China Sea

Written by Jiye Kim. US defense officials are open about the fact they sent a guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea on October 27. In response, Chinese President Xi Jinping asserted “islands in the South China Sea have been China’s territory since ancient times” while US …

China goes ballistic: Beijing’s response to US-Australia talks

Written by Mark Beeson. China’s not happy. Normally that sort of phrase is pretty meaningless. Clearly not everyone in China has the same view on anything – with the possible exception of its territorial claims in the South China Sea. This is why China’s policymakers and commentariat are so peeved about the declarations emerging from …

Why the world is wary of China’s ‘great wall of sand’ in the sea

Written by Clive Schofield. The leaders of Southeast Asian nations recently took the extraordinary step of warning China that its island-building activities in the contested South China Sea “may undermine peace, security and stability” in the region. That’s strong language from the usually reticent 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and shows just how high tempers …

Dispute over the South China Sea could put East Asia at war again

Written by Timo A. Kivimäki. Philippine authorities have released satellite pictures of six reefs in the Spratly archipelago that indicate that the Chinese are building artificial structures in the disputed territories of the South China Sea. According to some observers, these features could allow China to extend the range of its navy, air force, coastguard …

In spite of many challenges, Obama-Xi summit will see modest progress

Written by Bates Gill. The enduring paradox of U.S.-China relations will be on full display this week in Washington in what will be one of the most important—and difficult—meetings between Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. Across so many dimensions of the relationship, the two countries have never been closer. Yet the underlying strategic foundation …