China’s fluid assertiveness in the South China Sea dispute
This chapter analyses China's policy in the South China Sea over the past few years. It traces the trajectory of recent Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea dispute and argues that China's policy could be characterized as 'fluid assertiveness'. The chapter argues that domestic socio-political impetuses have helped to shape Chinese action over the South China Sea contestations. In actual fact, China's policy in the dispute has been characterized by over reactive assertiveness and a degree of unilateral activity, which we describe as fluid assertiveness. The Fluid assertiveness means that Beijing may exercise caution should it decide to take any unilateral action in the South China Sea. China's claim in the South China Sea is extensive, trenchant, and to a large extent ambiguous. A closer inspection of Chinese foreign policy behaviour in the South China Sea reveals one underlying theme – the domestic element – that explains much of China's fluid movements in the region.