The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia by Bill Hayton

Dr. Sampa Kundu is Research Assistant at IDSA Click here for detailed profile.
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  • January 2016
    Book Review

    The South China Sea disputes have received considerable attention from international relations scholars, world leaders and policymakers in the recent decades. China’s aspirations in the region are challenged by the relatively smaller East Asian countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The territorial disputes, mixed with the concept of sovereignty and national pride, have led to the development of geopolitical rivalry in the region. But these disputes have their origin in history and Hayton’s book, divided into nine chapters, offers readers the historical context of the twenty-first century’s most discussed territorial disputes revolving around the South China Sea. Hayton argues that history can elucidate, at least partially, why control over the South China Sea is considered so significant by the claimant states. Simultaneously, he also explains the misuse of historical data in the modern era for one’s own convenience. Hayton’s book also clarifies the factors responsible for intensifying the conflicting interests in the region vis-à-vis the international arena. These are explained in the following paragraphs.

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