The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of MichiganThe Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

Article by John D. Ciorciari on South China Sea disputes appears on CNN

Monday, June 27, 2011

An article by John D. Ciorciari, "Chinese Dilemmas in the South China Sea," appeared on CNN's website on June 23rd. The article focused on China's disputes with countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines over the Spratly Islands in the South China sea.

In recent years, China has attempted to expand its presence in the South China Sea by claiming larger and larger swaths of territory. However, its expansion has been complicated by claims of other nations in the region of the same area, and its policy in dealing with those nations has been conflicted, encompassing both joint development projects and threats of a forceful defense of its claims. Recently, China's policy has swung increasingly towards force and divisiveness while it maintains rhetoric about peaceful expansion. Ciorciari sees this approach as heavy-handed and unlikely to serve Chinese interests in the long run.

"China's current approach reflects an apparent effort to steer between [hard and soft foreign policy]," he said. "The PRC is using threats to prevent others from solidifying their claims while trying to creep outward and awaiting a time when its navy might change cost-benefit equations across the region. In the meantime, it risks undermining a reasonably successful 'charm offensive' in Southeast Asia and feeding forces that raise the possibility of undesired conflict."

Ciorciari also commented on the issue in a video on the Asia Society's website on June 27.

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