Cooperative Monitoring in the South China Sea: Satellite Imagery, Confidence-Building Measures, and the Spratly Islands Disputes

Cooperative Monitoring in the South China Sea: Satellite Imagery, Confidence-Building Measures, and the Spratly Islands Disputes

Cooperative Monitoring in the South China Sea: Satellite Imagery, Confidence-Building Measures, and the Spratly Islands Disputes

Cooperative Monitoring in the South China Sea: Satellite Imagery, Confidence-Building Measures, and the Spratly Islands Disputes

Synopsis

The Spratly Islands have represented a potential political and military flashpoint in the South China Sea for years, involving as they do various claims by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan. This edited volume examines the issues involved in light of confidence-building measures that new high-resolution satellite imagery can offer to this, and other, regions.

Excerpt

The onset of the new millennium coincided with a revolution in information technologies that is having profound implications for nearly every segment of human endeavor. Scholars and practitioners alike are weighing the importance of technologies for generating, processing, and communicating information for the economic, social, and national security aspects of states and societies. One area requiring greater intellectual attention is whether the information revolution can create new opportunities for conflict management and diplomacy in order to reduce the risk of armed conflicts among nations. New information technologies, including high-resolution commercial observation satellites, are emerging that are particularly promising instruments for preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution. Such technologies offer an improved means for reducing the chances of miscalculation and misunderstanding by national leaders, who often make crucial decisions involving the risk of armed conflict in the face of great uncertainty and confusion.

This book focuses on a dangerous regional flashpoint—the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea—where information technologies could play an important role in reducing the likelihood of regional conflict. It is specifically concerned with minimizing the conflict potential of the complex jurisdictional and territorial disputes surrounding the Spratly Islands and their associated waters that arise from the conflicting claims of six countries: China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei. Although major fighting has been avoided to date, the Spratly Islands disputes encourage continuing regional tensions as claimants compete to occupy the remaining small islands and reefs with military and civilian outposts intended to bolster sovereignty claims. These rivals typically use military reconnaissance aircraft and naval patrols to monitor each other’s activities in the Spratlys; despite the danger of provoking a forcible response that could escalate into the wider use of military force.

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