This paper re-visits the South China Sea dispute by reviewing the 1974 and 1988 naval encounters, and the more recent Mischief Reef incidents of 1995 and 1999. What emerges is a pattern of Chinese opportunism from 1974 up to the present. The position of the United States is also found to be consistent since the 1970s. It is one of qualified detachment and premised on the belief that the South China Sea territorial disputes should be settled peacefully by the claimants themselves. In light of these findings, this paper argues that ASEAN must adopt a unified position, and offers suggestions as to what ASEAN can do collectively, to avert the eventual control of the South China Sea by China.
Last updated on 01/07/2014