Vietnam and the South China Sea: Politics, Security and Legality, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Vietnam and the South China Sea

Politics, Security and Legality, 1st Edition

By Do Thanh Hai


262 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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Studies of the escalating tensions and competing claims in the South China Sea overwhelmingly focus on China and its increasingly assertive approach, while the position of the other claimants is overlooked. This book focuses on the attitude of Vietnam towards the South China Sea dispute. It examines the position from a historical perspective, shows how Vietnam’s position is affected by its wish to maintain good relations with China on a range of issues, and outlines how Vietnam has occasionally made overtures to both the United States and Japan in order to bolster its position, and considered the possibility, so far resisted, of taking China to formal arbitration under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The book concludes by assessing the future prospects for Vietnam’s position in the dispute.


"The work of Do Thanh Hai offers us insights into the contradictory motivations that guide and constrain the Vietnamese leadership. Hai’s account demonstrates that the choices Vietnam makes in its foreign relations can be deeply ideological, and not simply the result of impersonal forces acting on a monolithic state."

Bill Hayton, Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, East Asian History and Culture Review, No. 25, December 2017

Table of Contents


  1. Under the Shadow of the Dragon
  2. Vietnam’s claims in the South China Sea
  3. Befriending with the Dragon, 1986-1995
  4. ASEANizing the South China Sea issue, 1995-2002
  5. Shaping Regional Balance of Influence, 2003-2007
  6. Riding on Nationalism, 2007-2009
  7. Internationalising the South China Sea issue, 2009-2011
  8. Navigating Big Power Politics, 2011-2015


About the Author

Do Thanh Hai is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for East Sea Studies, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. He has a PhD from the Australian National University, where he was as a Prime Minister's Australian Asia Endeavour Awardee.

About the Series

Routledge Security in Asia Pacific Series

Series editors: Leszek Buszynski and William Tow, both Australian National University


New security concerns are emerging in the Asia Pacific region as global players face challenges from rising great powers, all of which interact with confident middle powers in complicated ways. This series puts forward important new work on key security issues in the region. It embraces the roles of the major actors, their defense policies and postures and their security interaction over the key issues of the region. It includes coverage of the United States, China, Japan, Russia, the Koreas, as well as the middle powers of ASEAN and South Asia. It also covers issues relating to environmental and economic security as well as transnational actors and regional groupings.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General