South China Sea Event Timeline: 1900–1969

The South China Sea Event Timeline aims to become the world’s most accurate and comprehensive chronological reference about the history of the South China Sea maritime territorial disputes. From major incidents at sea to meetings and statements of world leaders, events of all types are included in the event timeline, the complete volumes of which span over a century of history in the region. Today, the event timeline is one of the few indispensable sources of information to date for policymakers, researchers, students, the media, and others interested in the disputes.

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Territory and Conflict: Island Disputes vs. Continental Disputes

Issue Briefings 17 • 2017 • By Philip Streich

Territorial disputes are the most frequently cited cause of wars in history, but do states fight as frequently over islands? This article shows that island disputes are less likely to escalate into deadly conflict.

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Guest Lecture with Bill Hayton: “The Modern Origins of China’s Claims in the South China Sea”

On September 8, 2017, the South China Sea Think Tank hosted a Guest Lecture with Bill Hayton (@bill_hayton) on “The Modern Origins of China’s Claims in the South China Sea”. Hayton is an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House, a BBC journalist, and the author of The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia.

The event was attended by over 70 people, including local and international scholars, government and military officials, graduate students, and media. Supporting organizations included the Asia-Pacific Policy Research Association, Taiwan Center for Security Studies, Institute of Marine Affairs and Policy, and Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University.

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Presentations from the International Conference on Maritime Challenges and Market Opportunities

Maritime disputes have emerged as major potential flashpoints in the Asia-Pacific region. The tense confrontations that have threatened regional security and stability are fueled by the complex historical relationships between countries, disagreement over maritime sovereignty issues, divergent understandings of international law, and many countries’ relentless pursuit of their national interests. Yet oceans need not be a source of regional tensions. On the contrary, these vast maritime expanses provide opportunities for cooperation among all relevant stakeholders. Oceans are crucial to international trade, global development, and human wellbeing and will play an increasingly significant in the global economy in the future.

To broaden our knowledge of the relationship between regional maritime and global economic issues, Taiwan Center for Security Studies (TCSS) hosted the International Conference on Maritime Challenges and Market Opportunities: “Facilitating Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific” on August 29–30, 2017, which was attended by domestic and foreign participants from academia and industry. In addition to maritime security and geopolitical issues, the conference also explored other key topics related to maritime affairs, including the sustainability of the ocean economy, fishing, shipbuilding, maritime energy (e.g. tidal power, offshore wind energy), seabed resources, emerging blue-water technologies, maritime startups, marine environmental protection, marine tourism, and the oceanic cultural and creative industries.

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South China Sea Lawfare: Post-Arbitration Policy Options and Future Prospects

Report • 2017 • Edited by Fu-Kuo Liu, Keyuan Zou, Shicun Wu, and Jonathan Spangler

Download the report: South China Sea Lawfare (2017)

On July 12, 2016, the Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration case issued its Award, officially bringing closure to the arbitral proceedings initiated by the Philippines against China in early 2013. In the Award, the Tribunal’s conclusions overwhelmingly supported the Philippines’ positions regarding almost all of the fifteen submissions in its Memorial. The Tribunal also rejected or opted not to take into account the vast majority of China’s positions as elaborated through official statements and was similarly not persuaded by arguments issued or evidence presented by Taiwan.

The Award, especially due to relevant countries’ policy responses and the enduring controversy over its content, has significant implications for the South China Sea maritime territorial disputes, which remain one of the most potent and complex issues affecting stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. In the post-arbitration context, rival claimants and major stakeholders have been forced to recalibrate their rhetoric, strategies, and policies in order to safeguard their interests and rights in the maritime area while maintaining an image internationally that is conducive to achieving these aims.

This report, entitled South China Sea Lawfare: Post-Arbitration Policy Options and Future Prospects, builds upon the success of the first South China Sea Lawfare report that was published in early 2016. By bringing together an international team of experts writing on the different approaches of each claimant and stakeholder, it aims to serve as a more inclusive reference on post-arbitration South China Sea policy issues than the many other analyses published in the aftermath of the Award.

In Part I: Introduction, the report begins by giving a brief overview of the arbitral proceedings in historical perspective and summarizing the legal positions of the parties involved and the Tribunal’s conclusions as described in its two awards. In Part II: Rival Claimants and Part III: Major Stakeholders, the chapters focus on (1) the specific policy approaches of each country or actor; (2) the implications of the Award for each; (3) the legal, diplomatic, and security policy options available to them; and (4) their future prospects in the post-arbitration context of the South China Sea. In Part IV: Conclusion, the report explores the implications of the Award for international maritime law and the future of maritime territorial disputes. By encouraging and compiling a diversity of views on the South China Sea, the editors hope that this report will serve over the coming years as a resource for policymakers, a foundation for future research, and an example of constructive international collaboration in the midst of the disputes.

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Taiping Island’s Legal Status: Questions Remain in the Aftermath of the Award

Issue Briefings 16 • 2016 • By Serafettin Yilmaz and Tsung-Han Tai

Far from making progress towards a South China Sea dispute settlement, the Award in the Philippines v. China arbitration case has all but ensured that debate will continue. In particular, the Tribunal’s controversial conclusions regarding Itu Aba (Taiping) Island’s legal status may have already reduced the effectiveness and perceived validity of the Award.

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Time to Revive the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the South China Sea?

Issue Briefings 15 • 2016 • By Carlos Santamaria

A decade ago, China and the Philippines demonstrated that they had the resolve to cooperate on joint exploration projects, but nationalist outcry in the Philippines derailed these efforts. Now that the Philippines v. China arbitration case has concluded, reviving the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) or a similar program may once again offer a win-win solution.

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Philippines v. China Arbitration Case: Official Responses to the Award

Features • 2016 • By SCSTT Editorial Team

South China Sea Think Tank compiles the official responses of claimants and major stakeholders to the Award of July 12, 2016, in the Philippines v. China arbitration case.

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Philippines v. China Arbitration Case: Summary of the Philippines’ Submissions and Tribunal’s Awards

Features • 2016 • By SCSTT Editorial Team

South China Sea Think Tank summarizes the Philippines’ submissions and additional claims, the Tribunal’s conclusions contained in its Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility, and its conclusions made in its final Award in the Philippines v. China arbitration case.

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US Warships in the South China Sea: A Prelude to War?

Issue Briefings 14 •  2016 • By Mark Valencia

As the US Navy increases its presence in the South China Sea in an attempt to maintain US primacy in Asia, it risks provoking a military clash with China. If regional stability is to be maintained, the US will need to rethink its strategy and seek a compromise.

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