ABSTRACT. The South China Sea (SCS) is becoming an increasingly contentious source of geopolitical tension due to its significance as an international trade route, possessor of potentially significant oil and natural gas resources, China’s increasing diplomatic and military assertiveness, and the U.S.’ recent and ongoing Pacific Pivot strategy. Countries as varied as China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and other adjacent countries have claims on this region’s islands and natural resources. China has been particularly assertive in asserting its SCS claims by creating a nine-dash line map claiming to give it de facto maritime control over this entire region without regard to international law on claimed land features and without providing transparency for the rationale behind its assertions. Regional countries are responding by increasing defense spending and developing responses to Chinese assertiveness such as the 2014 Australia-Japan defense technology sharing agreement. This presentation will examine the reactions to Beijing’s assertiveness by other Asian-Pacific countries including Australia, Japan, other Southeast Asian countries, and the U.S. It incorporates research and analysis from scholarly literature and multiple national and international government organizations. This work concludes by advocating that the U.S. and its allies take more assertive positions to counteract Beijing’s claims to this region. pp. 146–168

Keywords: South China Sea; maritime control; geopolitical tension

How to cite: Chapman, Bert (2016), “China’s Nine-Dashed Map: Continuing Maritime Source of Geopolitical Tension,” Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 8(1): 146–168.

Received 3 August 2015 • Received in revised form 14 September 2015
Accepted 14 September 2015 • Available online 1 October 2015


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