Chinese Assertiveness in the South China Sea and Southeast Asian Responses
Author(s)Carlyle A. Thayer
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Canberra
KeywordsPolitical Science; Social Sciences
ASEAN; China; Vietnam; Philippines; South China Sea; Chinese assertiveness; force modernisation
320; 327; 330; 332
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AbstractThis article reviews Chinese assertive behaviour towards the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea issues in 2011. The article compares and contrasts Chinese diplomatic behaviour in the period before and after the adoption by ASEAN member states and China of Guidelines for the Implementation the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in July. In the first period China aggressively asserted its claims to sovereignty by interfering with commercial fishing and oil exploration activities of vessels operating in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Vietnam and the Philippines. Both states resisted Chinese actions. The Philippines allocated increased funding for defence modernization, lobbied ASEAN states and shored up its alliance with the United States. Vietnam too protested Chinese action and undertook symbolic steps to defend national sovereignty. In the second period all states moved to contain South China Sea tensions from affecting their larger bilateral relations. It remains to be seen, however, if proposed confidence building measures will ameliorate Chinese assertiveness.