Recent developments in the South China Sea : grounds for cautious optimism?
Carlyle A. Thayer
Date of Issue2010
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
This paper provides a broad overview of four major topics. First, it discusses tensions in China-United States relations and their implications for Southeast Asia. This section will focus on how China and the United States employ naval power to shape the political environment. This section also critically examines the concept of “core national interest” that is attributed to Chinese officials. Second, the paper review multilateral efforts to address the South China Sea with a particular focus on the 17th ASEAN Regional Forum ministerial meeting and the inaugural meeting of the ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus Eight. Third, the paper reviews China-Vietnam interaction in the South China Sea with a particular focus on China’s annual unilateral fishing ban and seizure of Vietnamese fishing boats. Fourth, the paper reviews the status of the Declaration on Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea and progress by the China-ASEAN working group to implement the DOC. The paper concludes on a note of cautious optimism that there is likely to be some progress in implementing confidence building measures in the South China Sea but that sovereignty claims will remain intractable.
RSIS Working Paper ; 220/10