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1 February 2012

The Limits of 'Assertive' Behavior: US-China Relations and the South China Sea

Joint exercises between the US and Singapore in the South China Sea
Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported

Joint exercises between the US and Singapore in the South China Sea

This paper uses power-transition theory to argue that China will continue to be ambiguous in the South China Sea dispute. That is, it will keep employing both assertive and conciliatory measures towards ASEAN countries and the US. The author shows that as a rising power, Beijing has not yet reached the key 80% mark of US power and as such is biding its time until it will be a true challenger. Evidence of this stance can be seen in China's reluctance to label the dispute as a core interest, despite mounting domestic pressure.

© East Asia Institute (EAI)

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Author:

Stephen Ranger

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2

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