Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea


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When: Jan 28 2014 - 12:30pm until Jan 28 2014 - 2:00pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea

An Asia Pacific Security Seminar:

Dr. Christopher D. Yung
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University

Dr. Christopher Yung explained the methodology and some of the analysis that has come from his year-long project to create a database of the actions taken by countries to assert their claims in the South China Sea.

For the past year the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University has been involved in a study to comprehensively collect the actions and tactics being undertaken by the countries with territorial claims in the South China Sea. In this year-long study, Dr. Christopher Yung, and Patrick McNulty, a research assistant at INSS, collected all open press reports of these activities involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei in the South China Sea, creating a comprehensive database. From this data, various patterns are analyzed and conclusions reached; including which tactics are most often utilized by the claimant countries, which country uses the greatest number of methods and total number of actions to advance its claims, and which countries resort the most (and the least) to the use of military and paramilitary actions.

Dr. Yung began his presentation at the East-West Center in Washington by explaining the reason and methodology for developing such a data base. He noted that there is a lot of data out there on the tactics being employed by the South China Sea claimants, but there was nothing that looked at all of the activities collectively. Moreover, interviews in the implicated countries hinted at distinct "categories" of both tactics and claimants. Recording and cataloging each of the actions related each countries' claims from 1995 to 2012 allowed them to look at the data by country and by tactic to tease out patterns.

Among the findings of the data are that tactics employed in the disputes fall into 9 broad categories ranging from Military/Paramilitary action, to information campaigns, and diplomatic maneuvers, and that the countries themselves can be divided into three categories based on the extent of their claim. From there various patterns on the number and types of tactics emerged. For instance, those with an extensive claim (China and Vietnam) were the most active with the largest number of individual tactics recorded over the course of the period (China logged 500, and the Philippines over 300). Those with limited claims (Malaysia and Brunei) favored legal tactics, and so on.

Dr. Yung's project is ongoing, with a full report anticipated sometime in 2014.

Dr. Christopher D. Yung is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University, where he specializes in Chinese military and security issues. He has contributed to numerous books on China’s naval power, and is author of China’s Out of Area Naval Operations: Case Studies, Trajectories, Obstacles and Potential Solutions (NDU Press, December 2010). Dr. Yung was a Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, where, in addition to his work on Northeast Asia security issues, he held posts at the Pentagon, and with operating forces (Amphibious Group Two and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic). Dr. Yung holds a PhD in International Relations from the Paul H. Nitze, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He also holds an MA degree in East Asian and China Studies from the same institution. He received language certificates from Columbia University and the Beijing Foreign Language Teacher’s Institute, at both of which he studied Mandarin Chinese.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762