Security Challenges
Volume 16, No.3 (2020)

Roles of Norms-Based Diplomacy in the Asian Maritime Order

The underlying principles and norms that support the current US-led security order in the region are being contested by China, which has been increasing in economic and military might. China’s contestation is symbolised by its unilateral claims of sovereignty over shoals and reefs in the South China Sea (SCS) as well as its reclamation projects, which have been followed by the establishment of airstrips and military facilities. Correspondingly, China has started to tighten its control over fishing and resource exploitation by other countries in the maritime area it claims as its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In the East China Sea (ECS), China also claims sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are administered by Japan, and has repeatedly intruded on Japan’s claimed territorial waters. China is keen to increase its financial contributions to international institutions and exhibits a willingness to contribute to economic development around the world. However, its unilateral claims and its attempts to change the maritime status quo indicate a radical form of contestation of the current maritime order.

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