Publication Date



Helms School of Government


International Relations


South China Sea, China, United States, The Philippines, Vietnam, UNCLOS, balancing, diplomacy, deterrence


Asian Studies | Human Geography


China is quickly becoming a world power and will soon reach parity with the United States. China has gotten far more aggressive in its expansion, which extends to the islands within the South China Sea. China claims most of this based on the Nine-Dash Line, in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As the current world superpower, the United States must respond to these claims given the geostrategic importance of the region. An analysis of the current Chinese and US positions, as well as those of the other littoral states with competing claims, allows for the determination of US strategy for the future. These claims are so strongly held due to the economic potential of the area, but as they stand, no one can fully benefit from it. An extensive literature review was conducted to determine where the situation currently stands and what the US should do about it. Fostering a cooperative relationship between these nations and preventing armed conflict are the US goals in the area. This can be accomplished through using force as a deterrent for conflict and working to develop diplomatic resolutions to the various border disputes, especially between the ASEAN nations and China.