Besides the seven South China Sea claimants, there are many other countries and actors that have attempted to establish themselves as key players or otherwise expressed their interests in the South China Sea disputes. Thus far, the most vocal of these major stakeholders are Australia, India, Japan, Russia, and the United States, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its affiliated organizations.
These major stakeholders’ roles and justifications for involvement in the South China Sea disputes are diverse and often a subject of controversy. While some claimants view their involvement in the disputes as guaranteeing security, promoting regional stability, and helping to facilitate dispute settlement, others view it as unwelcome, self-serving foreign intervention, a source of tensions, and a potential catalyst for military escalation. The divergence in interests and approaches among all those involved suggest that there will be no consensus on the appropriate role for non-claimant stakeholders in the foreseeable future.