The South China Sea has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in U.S.-China relations. Tensions in this body of water have long simmered but during the second decade of the twenty-first century, the South China Sea has risen to a slow boil. What explains the remarkable elevation of this flashpoint above other traditional Asia-Pacific flashpoints? What is the current situation and what does the future portend? In the South China Sea, the United States and China each perceives the stakes to be high and escalation potential low. However, heightened geopolitical rivalry between the two countries can easily lead to increased bilateral tensions and greater likelihood of unintended military conflict.
About the Speaker
Andrew Scobell is Senior Political Scientist at RAND’s Washington, DC office and Adjunct Professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Prior to this, he was a tenured faculty member at the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service and Director of the China Certificate Program at Texas A&M University located in College Station, Texas. From 1999 until 2007, he was Associate Research Professor in the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Dickinson College both located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Scobell earned a doctorate in political science from Columbia University. His publications include PLA Influence on China’s National Security Policymaking (Stanford University Press, 2015); China’s Search for Security (Columbia University Press, 2012); China’s Use of Military Force: Beyond the Great Wall and the Long March (Cambridge University Press, 2003), more than a dozen monographs and reports, as well as many journal articles and book chapters. Scobell was born and raised in Hong Kong and regularly makes research trips to the region.