Will the Guidelines to Implement the DOC Lessen Tensions in the SouthChina Sea? An Assessment of Developments Before and After TheirAdoptionCarlyle A. Thayer
: This paper looks at developments affecting security in the SouthChina Sea prior to and after the adoption of the Guidelines to Implement theDeclaration on Conduct in the South China Sea on July 20, 2011. The first part of the paper provides a comparative assessment of China’s aggressiveassertiveness in relations with the Philippines and Vietnam and their responsesprior to the adoption of the Guidelines. The second part of the paper assessesthe significance of the Guidelines to Implement the DOC on security in the SouthChina Sea. Part three reviews developments after the Guidelines were adoptedwith a focus on China’s bilateral relations with the Philippines and Vietnam andSino-Indian relations. The paper concludes by arguing that bilateralarrangements between China and other claimant states is a necessary but notsufficient condition for maintaining security in the South China Sea as long asChina continues to assert “indisputable sovereignty” over the maritime area.
This paper reviews developments affecting the security of the South ChinaSea during 2011. The paper first discusses Chinese assertiveness in thefirst half of the year and contrasts this with developments in the secondhalf of the year after China and the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached agreement on Guidelines toimplement the 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South ChinaSea (hereafter DOC Guidelines).During the first half of 2011 China embarked on pattern of aggressivelyasserting its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea by targeting thecommercial operations of oil exploration ships in waters claimed by thePhilippines and Vietnam. China’s actions not only raised regional tensionsbut also provoked the Philippines into making repeated diplomaticprotests, increasing its defence budget, lobbying regional states forpolitical support, and aligning more closely with the United States.Vietnam responded by calculated displays of resolve to defend nationalsovereignty, further its program of force modernisation, and stepped upits defence cooperation with the US, India, Japan, the Philippines andother ASEAN states.During the second half of the year, after the adoption of the DOCGuidelines, tensions over the South China Sea began to subside anddiplomacy took centre stage. China also initiated a round of high-level
Carlyle A. Thayer is Emeritus Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra,ACT 2600 Australia. His research focuses on Southeast Asian regional security andforeign policy issues with a particular interest in Vietnam, ASEAN and the ASEANRegional Forum. Many of the author’s current research papers may be located at>www.scribed.com<. E-mail:email@example.com.