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ASEAN, China and the 

ASEAN Chi d th
Sout C a Sea
South China Sea

Professor Carl Thayer
George Mason University
George Mason University
March 22, 2011
Background: 
the So th
the South 
China Sea
•Semi‐
enclosed sea
enclosed sea
•9 littoral 
states
Sea Lines of Communication ‐ SLOC
Sea Lines of Communication 
UN Convention on Law of the Sea
UN Convention on Law of the Sea
Hydrocarbons & Fisheries
Hydrocarbons & Fisheries
Competing Territorial Claims
Competing Territorial Claims
• Two
Two major island 
major island
archipelagoes
• Paracel Islands
• Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
• Islands in 
international law
Taiwan and 
•Taiwan and
China make 
same claim
same claim
•China’s 
claim is
claim is 
based on a 
map 
map
produced by 
Nationalist 
Nationalist
Government 
in 1947
in 1947
Overlapping Territorial Claims
pp g

Brunei
The Philippines Claim
Kalayaan or Freedom Land
Extended Continental Shelf May 2009
China’s 
Response to
Response to 
Claims for 
Extended 
Continental 
o e a
Shelf
Spratly 
Il d
Islands 
•175 ‐ 200 
insular 
features: 
islets, rocks, 
reefs, 
reefs,
shoals, 
cays sand
cays, sand 
banks, sea 
mounts t
Chronology South China Sea
Chronology South China Sea
• Taiwan on Itu
Taiwan on Itu Aba since 1956
since 1956
• 1974 China seizes southern Paracels
• No Chinese presence prior to 1988
Chi i 988
– Chinese‐Vietnamese clash, China lodges forces on 
Johnson South Reef 
h h f
• 1992 China adopts Law on Territorial Waters
• Oil exploration and “scramble for the Spratlys”
• 1992 ASEAN issues Declaration
1992 ASEAN issues Declaration
Taiwan
Itu Aba (Taiping) 
(Taiping) ‐ Taiwan
Paracel
Islands
•Amphitrite 
Group
•1974 China 
seizes 
i
Crescent 
Group
Chinese Airstrip Woody Island, Paracel Isands
China-Vietnam Naval Clash March 1988
Chronology Spratly Islands
Chronology Spratly Islands
• 1995
1995 Mischief Reef occupied, ASEAN issues 
Mischief Reef occupied ASEAN issues
another Declaration
• 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties DOC
2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties DOC
• 2005‐08 Chinese Naval base on Hainan Island
• 2007 China declares new Administrative 
Region over South China Sea
• 2008‐present increased tensions draws US 
diplomatic intervention
p
China’s Law on Territorial Sea and 
the Contiguous Zone, Feb 2, 1992
South China Sea Garrisons
South China Sea Garrisons

Claimants Features occupied Estimated troops
Vietnam 21‐22 900‐1,000
The Philippines 8‐9 600‐700
China 7‐10 900‐1,000
,
Malaysia 4‐5 230‐330
Taiwan 1 500‐600
Brunei 0 0
ASEAN Declaration on South China Sea
ASEAN Declaration on South China Sea
Issued in  Manila, Philippines, 22 July 1992
Issued in Manila, Philippines, 22 July 1992
• 1. EMPHASIZE the necessity to resolve all 
sovereignty and jurisdictional issues
sovereignty and jurisdictional issues 
pertaining to the South China Sea by peaceful 
means, without resort to force;
• 2. URGE all parties concerned to exercise 
restraint with the view to creating a positive 
climate for the eventual resolution of all 
disputes
Malaysia 
y
occupied 
Swallow 
Swallow
Reef 
(renamed 
(renamed
Terumbu
Layang
Layang) in 
June 1983
Pagasa Airstrip Philippines
Airstrip Philippines
Truong Sa Vietnam
g
China’s Occupation of Mischief Reef 1995
Chinese Construction on Mischief Reef
1995 ASEAN Declaration
1995 ASEAN Declaration
We call upon all parties to refrain from taking actions that 
p p g
destabilize the region and further threaten the peace and 
security of the South China Sea. We specifically call for the 
early resolution of the problems caused by recent
early resolution of the problems caused by recent 
developments in Mischief Reef. 
We urge countries in the region to undertake cooperative 
activities which increase trust and confidence and promote 
stability in the area. 
We encourage all claimants and other countries in Southeast
We encourage all claimants and other countries in Southeast 
Asia to address the issue in various fora, including the 
Indonesia‐sponsored Workshop Series on Managing Potential 
Conflicts in the South China Sea.
ASEAN Declaration on 
Conduct of Parties
f
• Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South 
China Sea November 2002
• Non‐binding
• Geographic area not defined
g p
• Confidence building measure proposed
• First step towards a Code of Conduct
First step towards a Code of Conduct
• Joint Working Group to Implement DOC
Tensions in US‐China Relations
•March‐April 2010 
E tS
East Sea and North 
d N th
Sea Fleets conduct 
major exercises
major exercises 
beyond First Island 
Chain
•Vietnamese 
fishing craft 
‘swarm’ around a 
Chinese fishery 
vessel in Spratlys
vessel in Spratlys
•PLAN warships 
intervene
Conclusions
• ASEAN
ASEAN’ss centrality to Southeast Asia
centrality to Southeast Asia
• China’s rise will challenge U.S. primacy
– Anti access/area denial in Western Pacific
A ti / d i li W t P ifi
• South China Sea focal point
– ASEAN‐China, role for US?
• Will U.S. remain engaged or retreat?
• New security architecture – East Asia 
Summit