Winning Without Killing in the South China Sea

  • Niels WoudstraEmail author
Part of the NL ARMS book series (NLARMS)


This chapter concerns itself with the way in which China uses mainly non-kinetic means to broaden its power and influence in the South China Sea. The old writings of Sun Tzu and the modern writings of Liang and Xiangsui, together with the analysis of the tensions in the South China Sea, demonstrate that the strategies being used by China do not always concur with Western ways of thinking. China did not launch a large-scale offensive against its neighbours to control the South China Sea with its natural resources and sea lines of communication. Over the last decades it has been patiently broadening its influence in the area, often by using civilian or paramilitary means. It now occupies most of the Spratlys, Paracels and Scarborough Shoal. Because of its economic and diplomatic dominance China is persuasive behind the scenes in bilateral negotiations with neighbouring countries. The military, symmetric, deterrent response of the West, by sailing through these waters with warships, may be effective, but may not be sufficient to secure the status of international waters and freedom of navigation in the long term. In dealing with China in the disputes over the South China Sea, Westerners need to acquire knowledge about Chinese strategic thinking in order to come up with the most adequate response.


Maritime Strategy Non-kinetic Effects Sun Tzu Unrestricted warfare 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Military SciencesNetherlands Defence AcademyBredaThe Netherlands

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