In the past decade, China has pursued consistent low-level provocations against disputants to seize or prevent other states’ access to islands, maritime features, and waters in the South China Sea. China could significantly benefit from access to oil, natural gas, seabed resources, and maritime trade lanes by controlling these features.

Wiegand argues that, despite China’s claims about sovereignty and maritime rights, strategic interests dominate China’s goals in the South China Sea. She argues that China is using the South China Sea disputes as part of a deliberate strategy for power projection through intimidation of disputant states and deterrence of the US. By establishing strategic depth through seizure and militarisation of artificial islands in the South China Sea, China is able both to project its own military capabilities and to increase costs that will ideally prevent any potential US threats to the Chinese mainland.

China’s territorial and maritime claims strategies are therefore mainly a means for China to establish a security barrier to deter potential US actions against China. Although China’s goals reflect its interests in extending territorial sovereignty and other tangible gains, its overarching, long term goals are power projection and deterrence.

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Event details

Event date

Thu, 25 Feb 2021, 11am - 12:30pm