FEATURED | Is South China Sea the New ‘Inalienable’ Part of China?

FEATURED | Is South China Sea the New ‘Inalienable’ Part of China?

By Amrita Jash
Editor-in-Chief, IndraStra Global


FEATURED | Is South China Sea the new ‘inalienable’ part of China?

China’s growing military posture and unilateral behavior in South China Sea has raised red alarms in international politics, vehemently challenging the existing status quo. What is apparent is that China’s uncompromising attitude in the South China Sea presents China’s obsession over its territorial claims, wherein, South China Sea can be called the ‘new inalienable part’ of China.  

To say so, as Chinese President Xi Jinping in his speech in Singapore on November 7, posited the irredentist rational that the disputed islands in the South China Sea have been “Chinese territory since ancient times” and that China has the “inescapable responsibility to safeguard territorial sovereignty and legitimate maritime rights”. This logic of historical legacy has often been the practice of the Chinese state in claiming its territoriality. In reasoning its logic, China has increasingly upped the ante by strengthening its manifestations of defensive actions. In this atmospherics, China’s reactive assertiveness and unilateral decisions have elevated the ‘South China Sea issue’ to that of a ‘core interest’. This is indicated in the strengthening its fishery law enforcement, and building of civilian and military facilities in the disputed waters. The most important query lies in: ‘What does China’s assertiveness indicate in real politics? 

In the current dynamics of China’s orchestrated behavior, it can be rightly pointed that ‘South China Sea is the new inalienable part of China’. This proposition can be validated by China’s growing possessive attitude and assertiveness over sovereignty claims and maritime rights in the South China Sea- changing the existing status-quo in the region. Further China’s actions also clarify its unambiguous identity of South China Sea as its core interest- given its non-negotiable attitude as attached to other core interests.  

Moreover, the proposition of calling South China Sea the ‘new inalienable part’ of Beijing can be further confirmed by China’s revisionist land reclamation activities in the South China Sea- which has caused the new disequilibrium in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s such unilateral militarist actions in order to concretise its imaginary ‘nine-dashed lines’ have significantly defied the norms of international law. For China has legally failed to clarify its usage of the nine-dashed lines since its inception in 1947 to demarcate its claims over South China Sea. And moreover, China’s recent proclamation stating : “The South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China. And the sea from the Han dynasty a long time ago where the Chinese people have been working and producing from the sea”- resonates China’s practice of applying irredentist logic to strengthen its sovereignty claims. This has added a new thread to the territorial dispute.  

This intensity in China’s behavior reflect new optics of its changing strategic behavior. That is, there is a shift in China’s focus from continental power to that of becoming a sea power. And most importantly, China’s actions project its confident posture which starkly exhibit a departure from Deng Xiaoping’s dictum of Keeping a low profile”.   

It can be thus, pointed that China’s assertive rational in the South China Sea is driven by Beijing’s growing possessive attitude. Wherein, its modus operandi is strongly informed by its core national interest, which aims at safeguarding the territorial and sovereignty interests. Thereby, in relation to China’s strong call on South China Sea, it can be rightly stated that South China Sea is no more an exception, but a ‘new inalienable part’ of China.

About the Author:

Amrita Jash (TR RID: K-5665-2015)is Editor-in-Chief at IndraStra Global, New York-U.S.A. She has published in various national and international journals and discussion forums. Her research interests are: China’s foreign policy, security and strategic issues. She is also a Doctoral Candidate in Chinese Studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-India. She has pursued M.Phil in Chinese Studies (2013) and M.A. in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She can be reached at: www.amritajash.in or @amritajash

Cite this Article:

Jash, A. "FEATURED | Is South China Sea the new ‘inalienable’ part of China?" IndraStra Global Vol. 002, Issue No: 06 (2016) 0022,  http://www.indrastra.com/2016/06/FEATURED-Is-SCS-the-new-Inalienable-Part-of-China-002-06-2016-0022.html | ISSN 2381-3652 |
https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3435908

AIDN0020620160022 | FEATURED | Is South China Sea the new ‘inalienable’ part of China?

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