China's Policy towards the South China Sea: When Geopolitics Meets the Law of the Sea, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

China's Policy towards the South China Sea

When Geopolitics Meets the Law of the Sea, 1st Edition

By Lingqun Li


254 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-02-27
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This book provides an explanation of Chinese policy towards the South China Sea, and argues that this has been sculpted by the changing dynamics of the law of the sea in conjunction with regional geopolitical flux.

The past few decades have witnessed a bifurcated trend in China’s management of territorial disputes. Over the years, while China gradually calmed and settled most land-border disputes with its neighbors, disputes on the ocean frontier continued to simmer in a seething cauldron. China's Policy towards the South China Sea attributes the distinctive path of China’s approach to maritime disputes to a unique factor – the law of the sea (LOS) as the "rules of the road" in the ocean. By deconstructing the concept of "sovereignty" and treating the LOS as an evolving regime, the book examines how the changing dynamics of the LOS regime have complicated and reshaped the nature and content of sovereign disputes in the ocean regime as well as the options of settlement. Applying the findings to the South China Sea case, the author traces the learning curve on which China has embarked to comprehend the complexity of the dispute accordingly and finds that it is the dynamic interaction of the law of the sea regime and the geopolitical conditions that has driven the evolution of China’s South China Sea policy.

This book will be of great interest to students of Chinese and Asian politics, international law, international relations and security studies.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: The Law of the Sea regime and the transformation of sovereign disputes in the South China Sea

Chapter Two: The pre-1971 period: the PRC’s initial claims in the SCS and its view of international regimes

Chapter Three: China in the UNCLOS III era: where changes began

Chapter Four: The 1980s: shaping a new game in the SCS

Chapter Five: A multilateral turn in the SCS: 1990-2002

Chapter Six: The 2002-2013 period : changes and continuities

Chapter Seven: The South China Sea Arbitration case and beyond

Chapter Eight: Conclusion

About the Author

Lingqun Li is a research fellow at the China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, Nanjing University, China. She holds a PhD in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Delaware, USA. Her research interests include Great Power relations in the South China Sea, maritime security in East and Southeast Asia, regional maritime cooperation in the South China Sea and other enclosed and semi-enclosed sea areas, and China's marine governance system.

About the Series

Contemporary Issues in the South China Sea

Contemporary Issues in the South China Sea
The South China Sea involves a wide array of complex issues covering sovereignty over islands and reefs, maritime delimitation, maritime security, cooperation against piracy and terrorism, resource development and environmental protection, all of which require extensive research. The area's importance largely results from one-third of the world's shipping transiting through its waters and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed. Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea with such disputes being regarded as Asia's most potentially dangerous source of conflict. This series seeks to provide thoughtful consideration of these issues from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives. It provides an opportunity for early career researchers as well as established scholars to publish theoretically informed monographs and edited volumes that engage with key issues in this region.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / General
HISTORY / Asia / China
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Naval
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Treaties