Assessing the South China Sea Policy under Xi Jinping

What is China trying to achieve in the South China Sea?


Feng Zhang, Fellow in the Department of International Relations at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University

Chaired by

Jeremy Shapiro, Research Director, ECFR

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Tensions in the South China Sea are on the rise in the context of competing sovereignty claims and increased militarisation by all claimants, while the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is examining the case instituted by the Philippines regarding the legality of some Chinese claims.

This discussion will address the main features and drivers of Xi Jinping’s South China Sea policy – what is China trying to achieve and what are the implications for the regional order in East Asia?

Feng Zhang is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, at the Australian National University. He is the author of Chinese Hegemony: Grand Strategy and International Institutions in East Asian History (Stanford University Press, 2015). He writes a weekly column on China’s international relations for, and is a contributing author to Foreign Policy.

Jeremy Shapiro is Research Director at ECFR. Previously he was a fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy and the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, where he edited the Foreign Policy programme's blog Order from Chaos.