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.

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.

Setting a high bar down under: An American perspective on Australia’s White Paper

The Australian Defence White Paper was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. From an American perspective, the White Paper is a carefully crafted document that will leave many in Washington both pleased with and envious of Canberra’s strategic conceptualisation and connection of ends and means. The White Paper notes that ‘a […]

Seeing the Forest through the SAMs on Woody Island

The recent deployment of Chinese surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to Woody Island is a notable tactical development, but a far more significant strategic signal. Tactically, the HQ-9 batteries deployed to Woody Island could target aircraft at ranges up to 125 miles (200 kilometers), covering much of the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and […]

The U.S. Asserts Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea

After months of internal debate within the Obama administration, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassentransited within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, one of China’s artificially-built features in the South China Sea, on October 27 in what is termed a “freedom of navigation” (FON) operation. It was accompanied by two maritime surveillance aircraft, a P-8A […]

August 1945: A Snapshot of American Maritime Strategy in the Pacific

When Japan surrendered 70 years ago this month, the United States stood supreme in the Pacific.  Only the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy had surface combatants that could roam freely from the Indian Ocean to the East China Sea and these remained a fraction of the massive “Big Blue Fleet” the U.S. Navy had […]

China’s Land Reclamation Announcement: A Change in Message, Not in Policy

Q1: What has China announced about its land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands? A1: On June 16, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced that “as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha (Spratly) Islands will be completed in the upcoming days.” He noted […]

Carter Defends the South China Sea at Shangri-La

On Saturday morning at the Shangri-La defense dialogue in Singapore, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter delivered a long-anticipated speech on security issues in Asia.  As tensions have mounted over China’s island building in the South China Sea, Carter has been one of the administration’s strongest voices, calling the militarization of the islands a challenge […]

The South China Sea at Shangri-La 2015: A Primer

As delegates assemble for the 14th annual Asia Security Summit, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, regional tensions are running high over China’s island building in the South China Sea.  As the weekend summit gets under way, here are the issues to watch. Stormy Seas and Skies: In the last several months, the region and […]

Fixed Budget, Dynamic Defense in Japan

As AMTI readers know well, tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands have been running high since 2010. Despite a partial thaw when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with President Xi Jinping last December, Beijing continues to put steady pressure on Tokyo’s control of the islands with regular maritime and aerial incursions and […]

Transparency in Troubled Seas: Welcome to AMTI

Five years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that eminent historians and political scientists would draw analogies between territorial issues in the East and South China Seas, and the Balkans on the eve of the First World War. Yet in the very recent past, maritime claims, resource competition, and contentious international arbitration in the […]