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Threading the Needle: The South China Sea Disputes and U.S.-China Relations

32 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2016  

M. Taylor Fravel

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1, 2016

Abstract

In the South China Sea, China and the United States face pointed policy dilemmas. The challenge for China has been to assert its claims while avoiding the formation of a balancing coalition, while the challenge for the United States has been to defend its commitments without emboldening other claimant states and becoming entrapped in their disputes with China. Through an examination of how the United States and China have managed these pressures, this chapter yields three findings. First, actions by the United States and China have often created incentives for the other state to push back, creating negative spirals. Second, China and the United States have enhanced their positions in the South China Sea. Third, actions taken by both sides have helped to shield the broader relationship from tensions and competition in the dispute.

Keywords: South, China, Disputes, US, China, Relations, Policy, Tension, Dispute, Sea, Relationship

Suggested Citation

Fravel, M. Taylor, Threading the Needle: The South China Sea Disputes and U.S.-China Relations (July 1, 2016). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2016-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2826109 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2826109

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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