U.S. Policy Towards the Disputes in the South China Sea Since 1995

  • Taylor FravelEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


U.S. policy toward the disputes in the South China Sea has four features. First, the United States has altered its policy in response to changes in the level of tensions in the dispute. Second, U.S. policy toward the South China Sea has been premised on the principle of maintaining neutrality regarding the conflicting claims to sovereignty. Third, as its involvement in managing tensions has increased, the United States has emphasised the process and principles by which claims should be pursued more than the final outcome or resolution of the underlying disputes, especially conflict management through the conclusion of a binding code of conduct between ASEAN and China. Fourth, U.S. policy in the South China Sea has sought to shape China’s behaviour in the South China Sea by highlighting the costs of coercion and the pursuit of claims that are inconsistent with customary international law. Looking forward, the involvement of the United States in seeking to manage tensions in the South China Sea is likely to continue so long as the territorial and maritime jurisdictional disputes remain unresolved and states take declaratory steps and operational actions to assert and defend their claims.


South China Sea U.S. policy Maritime disputes 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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