Tourism as a Territorial Strategy in the South China Sea
Tourism is affecting spatial, social, political, and economic order across the South China Sea, reconfiguring leisure spaces and economies, popular political discourse, and geopolitical imaginaries. This is in line with China’s deployment of outbound tourism to achieve political objectives in other regions. This chapter argues that China is using tourism as a key tactic in the South China Sea to assert military and administrative control as well as cultural hegemony, both for its own citizens and against rival claimants. The chapter first provides a brief political history of China’s outbound tourism policies and practices in the maritime area. This is followed by a qualitative analysis of government statements, tourism marketing materials, and tourist blog posts. It then concludes that the South China Sea destinations are represented not only as new sites for leisure but also for the training of a patriotic Chinese citizenry. The tourism activities of Vietnam and the Philippines also receive brief discussion as competing projects.
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