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Things Fall Apart: Maritime Disputes and China's Regional Diplomacy

Jacques deLisle and Avery Goldstein, eds., China’s Challenges (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Forthcoming)

40 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2014 Last revised: 31 Dec 2014

M. Taylor Fravel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 15, 2014

Abstract

One central feature of China’s diplomacy since the end of the Cold War has been the steady engagement of its neighbors, improving ties with almost all these states. In some cases, the resolution of territorial disputes has created a foundation for improved ties, while in other cases, the significance of these disputes has been downplayed to allow for the development of deeper political and economic relations. Today, however, China’s successful engagement of its periphery has begun to unravel as China has affirmed and asserted its claims in maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas. As a stronger China seeks to defend what it views as its territorial and maritime interests, it threatens the security of its neighbors, who grow increasingly wary of China’s long-term intentions. As a result, China’s neighbors are balancing against Beijing, externally by improving ties with the United States and other major powers in the region and internally by strengthening their own military and especially naval capabilities. In turn, the influence of the United States in the region has grown, creating (from China’s perspective) the specter of balancing coalitions, at least in the security realm.

Keywords: China, foreign policy, maritime disputes, South China Sea, East China Sea

Suggested Citation

Fravel, M. Taylor, Things Fall Apart: Maritime Disputes and China's Regional Diplomacy (January 15, 2014). Jacques deLisle and Avery Goldstein, eds., China’s Challenges (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2466488

M. Taylor Fravel (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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