The South China Sea: middle power perspectives

Author/s (editor/s):

Brendan Taylor, William T. Tow, Shafiah Muhibat, Christine Susanna Tjhin, Lee Jaehyon, Bong Youngshik Daniel

Publication year:

2016

Publication type:

Discussion paper

In this paper, six experts examine the South China Sea issue, and what role middle powers can play in helping ensure that the contest over disputed territory does not lead to conflict.

Brendan Taylor and William Tow examine Australian debates, arguing that Australian policymakers should explore an ‘Asia-first’ approach by cooperating with Indonesia and South Korea to help manage and encourage resolution on the issue.

Shafiah Muhibat and Christine Susanna Tjhin provide an Indonesian perspective of middle power diplomacy in the South China Sea, claiming that while middle power collaboration is possible, it will require addressing issues of legitimacy and trust between Indonesia, Australia and South Korea.

Lee Jaehyon and Bong Youngshik Daniel round out the discussion by examining South Korea’s strategic distance from the South China Sea. They claim that middle powers like Indonesia, Australia and South Korea can develop spoke-to-spoke networks that limit the ability of hub countries like China and the US to unilaterally shape the regional order in the Asia-Pacific.

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