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Chinese Maritime Assertiveness towards the East and South China Sea Disputes – A question of Regional Security Dynamics

By Aurora Eck Nilsen and Tina Sundree Lauge Gill


This report seeks to update the analysis conducted by Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver of the East Asian Regional Security Complex (RSC) in 2003. It argues for the relevance of doing so based in an observation of increased Chinese assertiveness in relation to its disputed territorial and maritime claims in the East and South China Sea disputes, especially evident within the timeframe dating from 2012 to the spring of 2013. Combining this observation with the expectations of Buzan and Wæver that the development of the security dynamics of the East Asian RSC depends in part on the perception of China by its neighbours, this investigation seeks to answer the question; Has the recent Chinese maritime assertiveness affected the regional security dynamics of the East Asian RSC? Based on an analysis of the perception and response to China by its neighbours with the use of, the project finds that the maritime contestants are seen to securitise against China over the maritime and territorial sovereignty disputes, and that the Chinese interstate relations of amity and enmity also reflect a shift towards enmity projected from Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. Conversely, these states show enhanced amity with each other, as well as they seek to strengthen amity relations with actors beyond East Asia, notably the United States and India. Based on these findings, the project concludes that China’s perceived assertiveness in its maritime disputes has affected the East Asian security dynamics and currently appears to be moving towards conflict formation

Topics: South China Sea, East China Sea, Regional Security Complex
Year: 2013
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