Dragon in the shadows: calculating China's advances in the South China Sea
Studeman, Michael William
Karmel, Solomon M.
Olsen, Edward A.
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The dispute between at least six riparian nations over jurisdictional rights to large tracts of the South China Sea continues to reign as one of the most likely flashpoints in the Asia-Pacific theater. The intentions of the chief protagonist in the conflict, China, will in large measure determine whether this dilemma will be resolved peacefully or violently. Relying on three case studies that focus on China's takeover of the Paracel Islands in 1974, its occupation of six reefs in 1988, and subsequent reef-hopping incidents in 1992 and 1995, this study highlights the conditions under which China expanded its presence in the South China Sea. Based on emerging trends, this thesis asserts that resource competition will most likely spark future violence in the South China Sea, and that domestic pressures within China commit Beijing to a course of hard-shell revanchism. At the same time, regional sensitivities to Chinese 'hegemony' and the correlation of military forces that weakly favor China suggest China will strive to avoid or contain a conflict over the near term. By profiling the character and turning of past Chinese 'aggression' in the South China Sea, this thesis also exposes the stratagems by which Chinese armed forces have pursued national objectives in the region.
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