Introduction: Understanding the Importance of the Disputes in the South China Sea

  • Enrico FelsEmail author
  • Truong-Minh Vu
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


When looking at Asia-Pacific, a regional power shift seems to be taking place. Probably the most notable feature of this is the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, a major military power as well as a proactive player in various multilateral institutions and fora. Multiple authors have rightly described China as one of the most important forces for change both at the regional and global level. China’s widely discussed rise and the changing regional power balance caused by the Middle Kingdom’s impressive development have indeed altered the global perceptions of the geo-politics and geo-economics of Asia-Pacific. On the one hand, this is due to the greater role China is now playing beyond its own region. More importantly, however, this is one the other hand also strongly related to the growing possibility that the US-led regional order in Asia-Pacific may be challenged (and permanently altered) by an increasingly confident Chinese leadership. This cannot only be exemplified by the installation of new intergovernmental bodies by China. At least equally important in this regard is the fact that China has actively been working towards shifting the established order in its nearby neighborhood. Developments in the South China Sea (SCS) are of primary importance in this regard. Accordingly, the disputes in the SCS need to be better understood in order to develop a more comprehensive grasp of the broader power play that takes place in Asia-Pacific.


South China Sea Rising China United States Sino-US competition Conflict management 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Global StudiesRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Saigon Center for International StudiesUniversity of Social Sciences and HumanitiesHo Chi Minh CityVietnam

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