Indonesia, Malaysia and the South China Sea: China’s Growing Presence and the Response from Countries Further South


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When: Sep 10 2015 - 12:15pm until Sep 10 2015 - 1:15pm
Where: 1601 East-West Road, Burns Hall, Room 3012

The Education Program Presents

"Indonesia, Malaysia and the South China Sea:  China’s Growing Presence and the Response from Countries Further South"

Mr. Scott Bentley
Affiliate Scholar, Education Program & Ph.D. Candidate, Australian Defence Force Academy

Thursday, September 10, 2015
12:15 – 1:15pm
John A. Burns Hall, Room 3012 (3rd floor)

China’s increasingly assertive behavior in the South China Sea since roughly 2007 has tended to manifest itself primarily through incidents and confrontations with its neighbors, Vietnam and the Philippines. China’s ability to project military power into the areas of the sea proximate to their shorelines has been long established.  A more recent and less well known development has been China’s growing presence in the southernmost areas of the South China Sea in areas near Malaysia and Indonesia, including China’s recent establishment of a permanent presence off the South Luconia Shoals. 

As in the northern parts of the South China Sea, this presence has been carried out by the various agencies now consolidated within the China Coast Guard, and has resulted in a number of serious incidents over the last several years involving these forces and their counterparts further south. Following China’s completion of its reclamation and ongoing construction activities in the Spratlys, this trend is only likely to intensify, providing the governments in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur with a serious challenge going forward. The strategic buffer previously provided by their geographic distance is being steadily dissolved. This challenge is slowly being recognized in both of the capitals, but as this is a relatively more recent development, the strategic community in each is playing catch up to some extent.

The presentation will examine the current perception in Malaysia and Indonesia regarding recent Chinese activity in the southern parts of the South China Sea, as well as their response to this activity thus far. It will then relate these developments to China’s own claims and strategic intent in the South China Sea, as reflected by these trends.

Scott Bentley is currently a PhD candidate at the Australian Defence Force Academy (UNSW@ADFA), where his dissertation focuses on maritime security strategies in Southeast Asia. During 2015-16 he will be a visiting scholar at Ohio State University’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies.   

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