South China Sea

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  • Shekhar asked: What is ‘nine-dash line’ and China's policy with regard to it?

    Abhijit Singh replies: The ‘nine-dash line’ is a demarcation line used by China to delineate its territorial claims in the South China Sea (SCS). The contested areas include the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and various other areas such as the Pratas Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal.

    I. Yaipha asked: What is the role of ASEAN in resolving regional disputes such as the one in South China Sea?

    Sampa Kundu replies: The territorial disputes revolving around the South China Sea came into focus in the 1990s as China began to claim almost the entire South China Sea region on the basis of historical records. China’s claim has since been challenged by smaller Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. Indonesia too has few issues especially regarding the Nansha Islands.

    Gaurav Moghe asked: In order to prevent China from further augmenting its influence in the South and East China Seas, how feasible and effective is the idea of a US-Japan-India tripartite on issues of common strategic and economic concern?

    Titli Basu replies: The debate on the US-Japan-India trilateral framework has intensified as evident from repeated references to the trilateral framework in some of the recent joint statements including the Tokyo Declaration for India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership (September 2014), the US-India Joint Statement – “Shared Effort; Progress for All” (January 2015), and the eighth India-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue (January 2015). In fact, the sixth round of the trilateral dialogue was held recently in December 2014.

    The ASEAN Way of Conflict Management in the South China Sea

    This article examines how the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conflict management process in the South China Sea (SCS) has been conducted and whether the ASEAN way can effectively manage the dispute, in which China is a prime and important actor. It argues that rising tensions in the South China Sea are a direct result of the changed balance of power in the region given the asymmetry between China and ASEAN members. China has taken advantage of ASEAN efforts to develop a code of conduct that is premised on the ASEAN way.

    January 2015

    Rounak Singh Asked: Is Deep Sea Mining by China a reason for its assertiveness in South China Sea and Indian Ocean?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: China has been allotted contracts for exploration only in two areas by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for a period of 15 years, and therefore, it cannot form the basis of Chinese assertiveness:

    • In the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (Pacific Ocean) till May 21, 2016, for exploration for polymetallic nodules.
    • In the South West Indian Ocean Ridge till November 17, 2026, for exploration for polymetallic sulphides.

    The assertiveness shown by China in the South China Sea is due to its sovereignty claims on the islands of the Paracel and Spratly group. In the Indian Ocean, China could be viewed as expanding its maritime footprint and presence rather than being assertive.

    Asian Strategic Review 2013

    Asian Strategic Review
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    It would not be a cliche to describe the strategic contours of Asia as being at the crossroads of history. A number of significant events are influencing the likely course that the collective destiny of the region could possibly take in the future. Some of the key issues and trends have been analysed in this year’s Asian Strategic Review

    • ISBN ISBN 978-81-8274-719-7,
    • Price: ₹. 1295/-
    • E-copy available

    China consolidates claim in South China Sea

    China continues to pursue its agenda on the South China Sea, employing its political, diplomatic and military departments in a well-coordinated and planned manner.

    April 17, 2013

    Archit Gupta asked: Keeping in mind India's interest in the South China sea, what should be India's policy with respect to the dispute?

    Reply: Please refer to an earlier response by Sarabjeet Singh Parmar to a similar query, at

    Also, refer to the following IDSA publications:

    Saloni Salil, “India, to the South China Sea and Beyond”, Journal of Defence Studies, 7 (1), January 2013, at

    R. S. Kalha, “China’s Forward Policy in the South China Sea”, July 30, 2012, at

    James R. Holmes, “Inside, Outside: India's ‘Exterior Lines’ in the South China Sea”, Strategic Analysis, 36 (1), May 2012, at

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar, “The South China Sea Imbroglio”, October 14, 2011, at

    India, to the South China Sea and Beyond

    This commentary attempts to map out some of the salient options for India in the region east of the Indian Ocean, that is, from the South China Sea (SCS) extending to the South Pacific. A maritime debate, the role and function of the Indian Navy is thus central.

    January 2013

    Murky Waters: Politics in the South China Sea

    What makes the South China Sea compelling is its global strategic significance both in terms of trade and energy, which has given rise to the strategic presence of a dangerous number of actors cast in multiple roles.

    December 11, 2012