Regional Summits and the South China Sea: Wading Into the Storm

Ahead of this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and ASEAN summits, regional maritime tensions have taken a dangerous turn, potentially setting off a new round of confrontation between relevant powers. A month after the meeting of Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in Washington, during which the two leaders signed off on new confidence-building measures […]

Philippines’ Lopsided South China Sea Policy

More than any country in the region, the Philippines has sought to protect its territorial integrity through “lawfare” (legal warfare), taking China to the court over maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Perturbed by China’s growing assertiveness across disputed waters, evident in its expanded para-military patrols, massive reclamation activities, and regular military drills in […]

The Battle of The Hague: Philippines v. China in the South China Sea

The Philippines’ lawfare (legal warfare) against China has reached a critical juncture. More than two years after initiating compulsory arbitration against China, the Southeast Asian country faces the crucial task of proving that the Arbitral Tribunal, formed under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has the mandate […]

Vietnam and the Philippines: Spoke-to-Spoke Alliances in the South China Sea

As far as China’s designs in the South China Sea are concerned, there is little sign of compromise on the horizon.  Not only has China openly declared its commitment to “active defense” of its interests in adjacent waters, and also dangled the option of imposing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the area, but […]

Showdown at Shangri-La: Confronting China’s Maritime Ambitions

China is far from a monolithic power. Its rapid ascent has transformed it into both a centripetal force of integration as well as a centrifugal force of fragmentation. Earlier this year, China managed to pull off a major strategic coup against the United States (U.S.) by astutely convincing almost all relevant economies in Asia and […]

South China Sea: Forging a Maritime Coalition of the Willing

China’s expansive and accelerated construction activities in the South China Sea have elicited growing criticism from across the region and beyond. While some countries, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, are primarily worried over the impact of China’s reclamation activities on their maritime claims in the area, other countries, from Singapore to Japan and the United […]

The Other Crisis in the South China Sea

China’s accelerated construction activities in the South China Sea have understandably alarmed countries across the region and beyond. In particular, Southeast Asian claimant states such as Vietnam and the Philippines are deeply worried about the prospects of an irreversible Chinese consolidation of its sweeping maritime claims, more expansive Chinese paramilitary patrols in the area, and, […]

The Diplomatic Implications of Philippines-China Arbitration

When it comes to the South China Sea, the year 2014 was a rollercoaster. With Manila’s arbitration efforts against Beijing gaining momentum, 2015 will present new challenges not only to Philippine-China bilateral relations, but also to the very credibility of international arbitration bodies under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of […]