Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

Scarborough Shoal Dispute, China's Assertiveness, and Taiwan's South China Sea Policy

Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

Scarborough Shoal Dispute, China's Assertiveness, and Taiwan's South China Sea Policy

Article excerpt

Abstract

With the emergence of China's rapid economic and military power, broad discussions of China and East Asia's political relationship surfaced. Although China's attitude towards neighbouring countries has been continuously amiable, conflictual incidents were occasionally reported. Among them, the South China Sea with overlapping sovereignty claim by many countries is an area that is prone to constant conflicts for China and its neighbour countries. In April, 201 2, although the confrontation between China and the Philippines in the Scarborough Shoal was eventually resolved without leading to any direct conflicts, China's strong message claiming sovereignty right in the significant dispute nevertheless indicates China's growing assertiveness in South China Sea.

This study provides an analytical review on two interrelated issues. First, it attempts to review and analyze the Scarborough Shoal dispute and its impact on China's South China Sea Policy. This paper argues that China's assertive approach toward South China Sea will be a non-military proactive effort in the near future, although Beijing's attitude and actions has been stronger and military forces have become an option.

Second, the paper reviews China's assertiveness in South China Sea, and its implication for Taiwan's South China Sea Policy. Taiwan's South China Sea Policy approach has been more restrained comparatively than other claimants in the area. It calls for an open, regional or multilateral approach toward cooperation, and has until now maintained a cautious approaches toward cooperation with China, exclusively on terrirtorial sovereignty contentions or joint development in the disputed islands, particularly the Spratlys. And thus, the policy will largely remain subtle and ambiguous in the years ahead, as Taiwan does not want to provoke either China or the ASEAN claimants in the South China Sea.

Keywords: South China Sea, ASEAN, China Rise, Taiwan

JEL classification: F51, F52, F59, H56

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

1. China's Evolving Position in South China Sea

With the rising of China's power, discussion around the world on China and East Asia's political relationship surfaced. Although China's attitude towards neighbouring countries has been continuing amiable, conflictual incidents were occasionally reported. Among them, the South China Sea (SCS) with overlapping sovereignty claims by many countries in an area that is prone to constant conflict for China and its neighbour countries. The flare-up between China and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, ... ) in April 201 2 was a typical case in this particular regard. Although the confrontation between China and the Philippines in the Scarborough Shoal was eventually resolved without leading to any direct conflicts, China's strong message claiming sovereignty right in the significant dispute nevertheless indicate China's growing assertive attitude, and even a more proactive efforts than ever in its South China Sea policy.

China's growing assertive behaviour in the South China Sea has been examined and reviewed in recent discussion and publication in the academic circle.1 Media across the regions have also focused on China's possible motivations. And the publications of an article in the Global Times, op-ed on September 29th, 2011 with the title "Time to teach those around the South China Sea a lesson", was picked up in particular by numerous news outlets in both China and around the world.

Since the beginning of the Post-Cold War era, China's strategy of self-constraint has been based on Deng Xiaoping's "24-Characters guidance" of "observe calmly; secure own position on; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership".2 China's peaceful rise narrative was meant to keep a low profile and to reassure neighbours and the world of peaceful intentions. …

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