chapter  4
Chinese thinking on the South China Sea and the future of regional security 1
ByFeng Zhang
Pages 17

This chapter explores China’s policy toward the South China Sea from the perspective of internal Chinese debates. Three major camps – the pragmatists, hardliners, and moderates – are now dominating these debates. The raging debates suggest that China has not developed a distinct or coherent strategy toward the South China Sea. Instead, diverse actors and interest groups are trying to impose their particular understanding of China’s positions and roles in the South China Sea. The future of Chinese policy will depend on the intellectual and policy competition among the three camps in domestic debates. That competition, in turn, will depend on the dynamics of the relational strategic interactions between China, the United States, and other countries in the South China Sea.