East and South China Seas Maritime Dispute Resolution and Escalation: Two Sides of the Same Coin?


Our assumptions about the nature and conduct of contemporary international politics deeply impact how we view maritime disputes plaguing the East and South China Seas. In this article, our analysis of the push and pull factors that influence the extent and possible resolution of maritime disputes in East Asia reveals that war is neither opposed in principle nor completely forbidden as an alternative. Amid heightening maritime tensions in the region, we argue that the underlying forces sustaining complex interdependence are what prevent rival states from engaging into a realist-inspired, zero-sum warfare. However, this is not to suggest that economic interdependence creates an absolute power that completely eradicates these flashpoints, and neither do we imply that it faithfully reflects East Asia’s maritime political reality. Although East Asian countries (particularly the more powerful ones) may think that open war can be justified, as a matter of practical utility, avoiding it is likely to be more effective in achieving the goals of a given conflict.

Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs