Asian Journal of PEACEBUILDING

Volume 1 Number 1 (May 2013)

Table of Contents


The South China Sea Maritime Dispute:Legality, Power, and Conflict Prevention

Leszek Buszynski pp. 39-63
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Tensions in the South China Sea have risen in recent years for reasons related to conflicting territorial claims and rivalry, competition for access to fish stocks as well as oil and gas fields, and in China’s case, emerging strategic interests. Because international law largely excludes it from an area it regards as historically Chinese, China has recently become more assertive in pushing its claim, resorting to power projection, particularly against smaller claimants, such as Vietnam and the Philippines. China’s actions have drawn in external powers, including the United States, Japan, and India, a development that exacerbates the problem. The danger is not that the United States and China may come into a direct conflict, but that through error or miscalculation a clash may escalate into a conflict involving external powers. Proposals to prevent conflict and stabilize the area include an agreement to avoid incidents at sea. Also a UN-sponsored conference on the South China Sea could contribute to a long-term resolution of the issue by dealing with competing claims in a semi-enclosed sea and other outstanding issues.
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