South China Sea NewsWire

The monthly roundup of what matters

Analysis

Entangled: Southeast Asia and the Geopolitics of Undersea Cables | University of Hawaii Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs

In this article, Elina Noor discusses the importance of undersea cables to Southeast Asian countries and how those states have neglected to increase cable security and governance. She then offers policy suggestions to improve regional governance and stakeholder coordination.

Analysis

The Quad and Submarine Cable Protection in the Indo-Pacific: Policy Recommendations | Institute for Security and Development Policy

Dr. Pooja Bhatt and Dr. Brendon J. Cannon explore the importance and securitization of undersea telecommunications cables in this policy brief. They first explain what undersea cables do and why adversarial actors may want to destroy them. The authors then examine potential actionable, rather than aspirational, policy options that the Quad can take to ensure submarine cable safety.

Commentary

ASEAN should be open but wary of the Quad | ISIS

In this article by SCSNW Advisory Board member Lucio Pitlo, the Quad offers several tangible benefits that ASEAN members can utilize, such as an external balance to China’s power and outside thinking on Southeast Asia’s security. However, while the Quad has benefits, it also brings risks, such as potentially breaking ASEAN up along great power fault lines.

Analysis

China’s ‘blue dragon’ strategy in the Indo-Pacific | The Strategist

China is advancing its ‘blue dragon’ strategy to compete with the US and undermine President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific policy. The plan targets three bodies of water in the Indo-Pacific region and major river systems in Southeast and South Asia. Despite Washington’s public denial of a containment policy against China, the US continues its global spy operations and has increased its defensive military posture in the Indo-Pacific.

Commentary

South China Sea: A Formula for the Philippines | The Lowy Institute

Shortly before handing over the chairmanship of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Laos, Indonesia corralled regional states for an unprecedented move. For the first time in recent memory, the regional body issued a stand-alone statement on the dangerous escalation of maritime spats between the Philippines, a founding ASEAN member, and China, a major economic partner. 

Commentary

Scientific collaboration could ease tensions in the South China Sea | East Asia Forum

South China Sea NewsWire’s Managing Editor David Hessen reviews a survey of South China Sea experts and academics that evaluates methods of regional conflict de-escalation. Hessen then considers if bilateral scientific diplomacy might be the key or reducing tension and improving regional environmental health.

Commentary

Vietnam Eyes Lifting of the EU ‘Yellow Card’ | Geopolitical Monitor

There are few indicators that the South China Sea’s seafood rivalry will slow down. Fishermen and the region face a looming fishery crisis due to illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, overfishing, marine pollution, warming seas and the securitization of fisheries. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a serious global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. That’s why the European Union (EU) officials continue to monitor Vietnamese fishermen after they received a “yellow card” in 2017.

Analysis

China’s illegal fishing fleet at Iroquois Reef in the West Philippine Sea | SeaLight

Satellite images of China’s illegal fishing fleet at Iroquois Reef, deep within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Approximately 35 vessels are visible. The Armed Forces of the Philippines recently released evidence that destructive Chinese fishing practices were destroying this reef.

Commentary

What one more dash in the South China Sea tells us about China’s game | Channel News Asia

South China Sea NewsWire’s contributing researcher Collin Koh evaluates China’s decision to add another dash to its well-known “Nine Dash Line” and the implications for Chinese strategy and regional responses.

Commentary

The Case for Joint Patrols in the South China Sea | Geopolitical Monitor

Philippines-China relations are deteriorating with every passing month, and the October 22 collisions attest to that. The incidents can either be viewed as proof that the Philippines urgently needs diplomacy with China or, perhaps, to begin employing “diplomacy by other means.” Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has lost all hope in the former option, saying that Beijing’s diplomatic outreach to Manila is “all for a show”; instead, he favors consulting with allies and partners to conduct multilateral joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea with the hope of altering Chinese behavior.

Analysis

Blue Security Issue 3 “Fair Winds and Following Seas: Maritime Security & Hedging in the South China Sea” | Blue Security

The Blue Security Program engages with and facilitates high quality research on issues of critical maritime security across the Indo-Pacific. Bringing together leading regional experts in politics, international law and strategic studies, Blue Security focuses on three key pillars of maritime security: order, law and power.

Analysis

Asia-Pacific nations worry as Biden-Xi talk set for APEC | The Washington TImes

South China Sea NewsWire’s own James Borton tackles the challenges that Asia-Pacific nations face as U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in San Fransisco for APEC. Borton also considers the risks, and opportunities, that stand before the U.S. President going into this conversation.

Commentary

Speak its name: Blockade | SeaLight

A country that carries out an illegal, aggressive, unilateral blockade against a smaller country’s outpost–within that country’s internationally recognized exclusive economic zone–deserves to be treated as an outlaw and a pariah on the international stage. That starts with calling it by its name.

Commentary

The U.S. Can Still Avoid War with China over Taiwan | The New York Times

AEI Nonresident Senior Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro’s article discusses the deterioration of relations between China and the United States over the future of Taiwan, the provocations each side has taken in the last few years, and the potential steps the United States can take to avoid the dispute turning into a devastating conflict.

Analysis

The South China Sea talks between ASEAN and China | IISS

The slow-moving South China Sea Code of Conduct process has worked to China’s benefit, particularly as Southeast Asian states have made little progress on resolving important underlying disputes over maritime boundaries. 

Commentary

Storm in a Shoal: Philippines and China spar again in the South China Sea | TCSS

Given the deteriorating state of BRP Sierra Madre, the current situation is unsustainable and a new path must soon be forged. President Marcos faces challenging times as he will need to navigate between both Chinese aggression and a vocal domestic cohort that is looking for him to assert Philippine territorial integrity.

Analysis

In Cambodia, a military base as a tool of influence for Beijing | The Conversation

In this featured article, Senior Contributing Researcher Benjamin Blandin analyzes China’s military base in Ream, Cambodia, how this base came to be, and its strategic implications for China’s South China Sea naval policies. In addition, Blandin explores Cambodia’s perspective in its close relationship with China yet its ability to build ties with other powers.

Analysis

Ease Tensions in the South China Sea by Adopting Cooperative Mechanisms | RANE & SCSNW

The recent altercation in the South China Sea between Chinese vessels and Philippine ships underscores the urgent need for science diplomacy and competition in fisheries management to bring clam to the tense waters, Rodger Baker of the Stratfor Center for Applied Geopolitics at RANE and James Borton of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins argue. 

Commentary

US-Vietnam Relations: From Bitter Enemies to Strategic Partners | Geopolitical Monitor

Vietnam and the United States have finally arrived at a new higher level of bilateral relationship after a protracted and difficult journey through a complicated history of conflict and cooperation. In order to strengthen strategic interests for peace, stability, and prosperity for both sides, and promote a rules-based international order, President Joe Biden and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong reached a historic accord to upgrade the bilateral relationship between the two countries in a two-day visit by President Biden to Hanoi on September 10-11. 

Analysis

Artificial islands: Beijing’s risky strategy in the South China Sea | The Conversation

In this featured article, Senior Contributing Researcher Benjamin Blandin analyzes China’s buildup of islands and military assets in the South China Sea. He explores the size and facilities of Chinese-held South China Sea islands, their usefulness to the PLA and Beijing’s overall policy objectives in the region, and their inherent risks to China’s power projection in the event of a full-on conflict.

Analysis

A RAND Research Primer “The Political Geography of the South China Sea Disputes” | Rand

The South China Sea disputes are multifaceted and have significant geopolitical implications. The complex nature of these disputes requires careful analysis and understanding of the political geography, historical context, and legal aspects involved.

Commentary

Where Is Vietnam on the Sino-U.S. Spectrum? | CSIS

Vietnam, like other Southeast Asian countries, does not want to align with either side in the growing competition between China and the United States but instead navigate between the two powers to pursue its own interests. The author argues that Vietnam remains closer to China and will move slowly in building stronger ties with the United States. 

    Our monthly news aggregator identifies the central articles on news and regional developments. Our team of editors offer concise summaries for easy access to articles, conferences, podcasts, videos and integrated media.