South China Sea and Political Demography: The Cases of Vietnam and the Philippines
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In the South China Sea maritime territorial disputes, only two rival claimants have so far taken a strong stand against Chinese claims: Vietnam and the Philippines. This chapter argues that the reason for their less-complacent attitude is believed to lie in their internal issues: massive populations of around 100 million individuals cramped in relatively small territories with few domestic resources to fall back on. This simple fact has compelled the two nations to vigorously defend, separately, their claims against what they perceive as Chinese territorial expansion. Vietnam has resorted to a multifaceted strategy, shifting from a national to an international focus; the Philippines has long weighed its options and finally decided to lodge an international arbitration against China as the main tool to assert its claims.
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