chapter
18 Pages

Introduction

BySarah Raine, Christian Le Miére

Within the South China Sea lie hundreds of small islands, atolls, rocks and reefs, only a small proportion of which are above water at high tide and which collectively form the focus for an intricate series of overlapping sovereignty disputes. There is Association of Southeast Asian Nations itself, which has traditionally been somewhat more hesitant in risking debate, and therefore disagreement, on the question of the disputes. A growing dynamic of intra-regional as well as inter-regional trade ensures a regular flow of raw materials and commodities across its waters, enveloping both Southeast and Northeast Asia in concerns over sea lines of communications within the waters. After a decade of relative neglect by all but a handful of regional security experts, the disputes in the South China Sea are once again, rightly, attracting the attention of the global security community.