A Blueprint for Fisheries Management and Environmental Cooperation in the South China Sea

The international legal obligation to cooperate on fisheries management and the environment is matched by practical necessity. Communities all around the South China Sea are highly dependent on fish stocks for both food security and local livelihoods. Yet the region has seen catch rates plummet in recent years thanks to a combination of overfishing and willful environmental destruction.

Podcast: The Doklam Standoff and Lessons for Maritime Asia, with Zack Cooper and Sarah Watson

AMTI director Gregory Poling speaks with CSIS experts Sarah Watson and Zack Cooper about the months-long standoff between India and China over the Doklam plateau. The conversation covers the origins of the conflict, the resolution of the current crisis, and how the lessons learned can be applied by other states facing Chinese coercion.

Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea: A Practical Guide

Since October 2015, the United States has conducted seven freedom of navigation operations that seek to challenge specific Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Eleanor Freund of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs recently published a report on the FONOPs program that details exactly how the U.S. Navy challenged five of those seven claims, as well as explaining the purpose and utility of the program in the South China Sea.

A Dramatic Year Fails to Smooth the South China Sea

The Seventh Annual CSIS South China Sea Conference on July 18 brought together security, legal, and environmental experts to review events of the past year. The participants had a lot of ground to cover: the impact of the arbitral tribunal’s award in Manila’s case against Beijing, the near-completion of China’s artificial island bases in the Spratly Islands, and the […]

CogitAsia Podcast: Countering Chinese Coercion

This episode of the CSIS CogitAsia podcast discusses maritime coercion in the Asia Pacific. Chinese actions in maritime Asia have led to a great deal of concern and commentary since disputes in the East and South China Seas have come to the forefront in recent years. CSIS’s Asia Program and International Security Program recently published a […]

Counter-Coercion Series: Senkaku Islands Nationalization Crisis

In late 2011, Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara launched negotiations with the private Japanese owner of three of the disputed Senkaku Islands (administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan). A government ministry had been leasing three islets—Uotsuri, Kita, and Minami—from owner Kunioki Kurihara for years to prevent hardliners from developing them or otherwise inflaming the dispute. Yet, hobbled by large business debts, Kurihara had recently decided to sell.

Counter-Coercion Series: China-Vietnam Oil Rig Standoff

This post summarizes one of nine case studies included in CSIS’s new report, Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia: The Theory and Practice of Gray Zone Deterrence. The full case study is also available for download here. (Principal case study researcher: Jake Douglas) On May 1, 2014, Vietnam detected the Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HYSY 981) oil […]

Counter-Coercion Series: Second Thomas Shoal Incident

In May 2013, China increased its presence near a Philippine outpost in the South China Sea. Chinese coast guard and other vessels were spotted only a few miles from Second Thomas Shoal. Since 1999, Philippine marines have occupied a dilapidated warship—the BRP Sierra Madre—atop this coral atoll in the disputed Spratly Islands. Manila’s foreign affairs department protested the onset of continuous Chinese patrols, calling them “provocative and illegal.” Other leaders acknowledged that Beijing could not be lawfully denied freedom of navigation around the reef, but still feared for the safety of Manila’s supply lines to its dilapidated garrison.

Counter-Coercion Series: “Top Gun” Incident

On August 19, 2014, a Chinese J-11B fighter dangerously intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft 135 miles east of Hainan Island. Media reports speculated that the U.S. surveillance effort was focused on China’s Yulin submarine base at nearby Hainan. U.S. officials soon divulged that this was just the latest in a string of at least four unsafe encounters since March of that year.

Shooting at Union Banks Underscores Need for Code of Conduct

In what might be an event soon forgotten by the international community, China’s paramilitary forces once again demonstrated their willingness to use force to intimidate other countries and risk escalation. Although the specifics of the incident remain sketchy, reports indicate that on March 27 a speedboat, presumably operated by the China Coast Guard, fired seven times upon the unarmed Princess Johann, a Filipino fishing trawler, while the vessel was operating near Union Banks in the Spratly Islands, which is near Gaven Reef - one of China’s newly built artificial islands. It is unknown whether the incident occurred within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, international waters, or the territorial sea of a disputed feature. What is clear, however, is that incidents akin to what occurred at Union Banks could undermine the recent warming of relations between China and the Philippines, and underscore the need for a binding Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea.

Counter-Coercion Series: Harassment of the USNS Impeccable

This post summarizes one of nine case studies included in CSIS’s new report, Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia: The Theory and Practice of Gray Zone Deterrence. The full case study is also available for download here. (Principal case study researcher: Jake Douglas) The United States and China have long disagreed about the permissibility of certain […]

Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia

A new CSIS study, Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia: The Theory and Practice of Gray Zone Deterrence, reviews the academic literature on deterrence, examines recent incidents of gray zone coercion, and draws lessons for policymakers. The authors hope that this analysis will provide insights to current and future leaders in the United States and East Asia about how to strengthen regional security and international order in the years ahead.

Duterte Faces Domestic Resistance

Observers often attribute contradictory statements from the Duterte administration to the natural byproduct of having such a notoriously mercurial character as commander-in-chief. What this conventional strand of analysis misses is the fact that Duterte and his generals are in a constant low-intensity struggle over shaping the Philippines’ policies on sensitive territorial and strategic issues.

Podcast: Chinese Research Vessels in Benham Rise, with Peter Dutton and Jay Batongbacal

Reports of Chinese oceanographic research vessels operating off the western coast of the Philippines in late 2016 have stirred up controversy in Manila this month. In this AMTI podcast, Greg Poling speaks with Peter Dutton, director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, and Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, to assess what the Chinese vessels were doing, whether it was legal, the public response, and what the controversy says about future cooperation between China and the Philippines