Genealogy of Conflict

The roots, evolution, and trajectory of the South China Sea disputes

Authored by: Richard Javad Heydarian

The Routledge Handbook of Asian Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138210295
eBook ISBN: 9781315455655
Adobe ISBN:


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Few regional disputes have so rapidly risen from the shadows of obscurity and been catapulted into the global geopolitical spotlight. Over the past few years, the South China Sea disputes have dominated global headlines, major international fora, and policy discussions among scholars and defense officials. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a London-based firm, identified the maritime conflict as one of the ten risks facing the world in 2016. 1 If anything, a growing number of experts and policy-makers have come to believe that the next great power clash could very well take place in this body of waters, as the United States also begins to assert its strategic foothold in the Western Pacific. As one astute Asian diplomat observer put it, the South China Sea is “where the parameters of US–China competition and their interests are most clearly defined.” 2

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