China’s maritime disputes: Fear, honor and interest


Fueled by China’s growing assertiveness as a rising global power, tensions over territorial disputes have mounted in the Asia-Pacific region. In November last year, Beijing unilaterally expanded its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) to cover most of the East China Sea, triggering a bitter dispute with Tokyo as the ADIZ also covers the airspace above the Japanese-controlled but Chinese-claimed Senkaku/Diayou Islands.

China has also thrown its weight around further south, claiming almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea and rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. Tensions recently escalated between Hanoi and Beijing after China placed a giant oil rig in waters claimed by both countries, with the two communist countries trading accusations of responsibility for aggravating the situation.

Ahead of the 13th IISS Asia Security Summit starting on May 30 in Singapore, Dr. William Choong, a Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), says in a DW interview that although neighboring countries have very limited options to restrain China, the probability of a major conflict breaking out in the Asia-Pacific remains low.

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