STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Securing the Sea Frontier: China's Pursuit of Sovereignty Claims in the South China Sea

Dr. Sujit Dutta is Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi. Presently he is on lien from IDSA and Professor at Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • April 2005
    Volume: 
    29
    Issue: 
    2
    Articles

    China’s maritime territorial claims, and its diplomatic and military measures to attain them, have caused much regional concern in recent years. The expansive maritime sovereignty claims of China in the South China Sea flow from three key goals: the completion of its incomplete nationalist project of territorial consolidation and unifying the state; the desire to control the contested maritime periphery; and the garnering of sea-based resources such as oil and gas that have assumed critical importance for fuelling the economy of a rapidly modernising China. To prevent the deterioration of its ties with its southern maritime neighbours and curb the influence of the United States, the Chinese government has since 2002 signed a series of agreements for cooperation, confidence-building and peaceful settlement of disputes on overlapping claims in the South China Sea territories. But the sovereignty issue remains unresolved and in place. The pursuit of its ambitious maritime territorial agenda complicates its cooperative strategy towards the East Asian states and if not set aside indefinitely or resolved peacefully it could unravel China’s moves to build a complex network of interdependence.

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