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Home Database The Seventh International Conference on SCS
The Seventh International Conference on SCS

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Prof. Liselotte Odgaard, Royal Danish Defence College, Denmark

China uses a foreign policy strategy that involves presenting China’s actions as driven by deterrence and legitimacy demands. Beijing’s implementation of the deterrence element of its strategy in the South and East China Sea involves enhancing its law enforcement, navy and air force capabilities, responding to what Beijing sees as challenges to its sovereignty with means that are presented as deterrents of further challenges, and communicating China’s willingness to use force, if necessary, to defend its alleged rights to sovereignty and maritime zones. However, because sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction is disputed in the South and East China Sea, China’s claim to use deterrence is interpreted by the U.S. as unlawful use of force against neighboring states to defend claims that have not been assessed as legitimate. Beijing needs to make convincing arguments that its claims are legally legitimate to persuade the surroundings that China is indeed pursuing deterrence rather than aggression.Legal grey zones imply that Chinese practices compete for legitimacy with alternative interpretations.


Ms. Rukmani Gupta, Senior Asia-Pacific Analyst for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

Land reclamation activities undertaken in the South China Sea enable various parties to increase their presence in the region and reassert their claims. Reclamation may have been viewed as less contentious method than creating completely new facilities for retaining control over maritime features in the past. However, a review of recent efforts by various countries in this regard illustrates the danger inherent in continued building activities. Resolve for such activities is tempered by access to resources in the form of man-power, capital and technology. It is therefore unsurprising that reclamation activities by some states are more intensive than others. Although under UNCLOS 60(8), artificial installations do not have the same status as islands neither affecting a state’s territorial sea boundary, EEZ, or continental shelf boundary; reclamation work is steadily paving the way for changing the status quo on the sea.


Prof. Herman Joseph S. Kraft, Associate Dean for Administration and External Affairs, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Philippines

The situation in the South China Sea has always been described as a potential hotspot since the disputes between multiple claimants to the land features and the surrounding water therein intensified in the late 1980s. This has perhaps never truer in the last ten years when the status quo of a “live and let live” situation was largely shaken by Chinese actions undertaken in response to what the Chinese government claimed were violations by other claimant states of that “live and let live” regime based on the ASEAN-brokered Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOCS). Whether or not these Chinese actions were justified, these have turned what used to be a “potential” hotspot into a crisis-prone situation. What makes the situation more dangerous is the overarching context of the intensifying competition between China and the United States.

Dr. Le Quy Quynh, Director General, Maritime Affairs Department, National Boundary Commission, Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The South China Sea has strategic importance to not only countries surrounding the sea but also other countries in the world. Because of its important geo-political location, the South China Sea has became one of the hottest spots in the world with conflicting claims over land features and maritime spaces. Most of the nations would like to maximize their maritime claims from a territory, it leads to the fact that there exist the conflicting maritime claims. In the South China Sea, the claims of  coastal states overlap with that of each other and therefore, the areas formed by these claims need to be delimited or agreed for joint development. However, the claims must based on the principle “the land dominates the sea” and must be mutually accepted by the other states as the legally reasonable claims. This article will review current issues of the delimitation and joint development in the South China Sea.


Prof. Nguyen Manh Hung, Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

Disputes in the South China Sea involve two set of islands. In the Paracel Islands, it is the dispute between Vietnam and China. The Spratly Islands have six claimants: Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. While conflict in the Paracel Islands is a bilateral issue, conflict in the Spratly Islands is a regional issue. However, because the South China Sea covers a vast expanse of water through which over 5 billion worth of commercial trade pass, conflict in the South China Sea can have a serious consequence for peace and security in one of the most strategically important area of the world it is, therefore, also an international issue drawing in the involvement of the major powers of the world.

This paper is designed to: 1) present a brief background to the South China Sea conflict; 2) examine the actions and interactions among claimants; 3) describe the reasons for and consequences of major powers interactions in a complex context combining the normal competition for power and influence between major powers and the global transitional process between a rising power and a status quo power; 4) review current proposals to keep the disputes under control; and 5) analyse the prospects of successful management of the conflict

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South China Sea Studies

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