With China’s oil rig back in the South China Sea, what’s Vietnam’s play?

Chinese Haiyang Shiyou oil rig 981, 320 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong in the South China Sea, 7 May, 2012. On July 16, 2014, China moved an oil rig that it had deployed in a section of the South China Sea, triggering a dispute with Vietnam. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Chau Bao Nguyen, University of East Anglia

The redeployment of a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea (SCS) shows an inconsistency in the rhetoric and practice of China’s policy in the disputed waters. Together with its mass land reclamation activities, these actions are part and parcel of coercive diplomacy. It affirms China’s territorial ambition in the highly strategic sea. But is it likely to escalate into regional conflict? Read more…

Small ASEAN states deserve big-picture security leadership

Members of Australian and Indonesian anti-terrorism squads line up during a counter terrorism exercise in West Java, Indonesia, 13 September 2013, involving the defense forces of the 18 member states of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) countries. The exercise aims to strengthen defense cooperation to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Phoak Kung, CISS

As defence chiefs from 26 countries gathered for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore in May, all eyes were on the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and his Chinese counterpart Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of People’s Liberation Army. As expected, maritime disputes in the South China Sea dominated the event. But another equally important topic for discussion were the security challenges faced by small states in the Asia Pacific. Read more…

India gets the message all wrong after Myanmar foray

Indian forces have hunted down and inflicted 'significant casualties' on rebel groups allegedly involved in the killing of 20 soldiers in the remote northeast of the country last week, officials said on 9 June 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Arun Vishwanathan, NIAS, Bangalore

Recent events along the Indo–Myanmar border have proven that India’s Narendra Modi government has a different playbook when it comes to pro-active responses against groups that harm Indian national interests. Read more…

Is Japan really tilting to the right?

Demonstrators shout while holding banners reading 'No War' during a protest against reforms that would allow Japan to dispatch its Self-Defense Forces overseas, on 26 May 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Robert Nagy, ICU

Japan is coming under increasing scrutiny as the 70th anniversary of World War II approaches and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moves to reform Japan’s defence policy. Recent concerns over hate speech and the right-wing nationalistic rhetoric of revisionist groups like Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), Sakura Channel, and Zaitokukai (The Association of Citizens Against the Special Privileges of the Zainichi — that is, the resident Korean population) have led commentators to conclude that Japanese people are becoming more nationalistic. But is this really the case? Read more…

Jokowi tries a different tack in Papua

Indonesian President Joko Widodo greets freed Papuan political prisoners during a ceremony at a prison located in the restive eastern province of Papua on 9 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Emirza Adi Syailendra, RSIS

President Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) has affirmed that special attention will be given to the Papua region, comprising the two provinces of Papua and West Papua. The region has endured a low-level guerrilla insurgency from a militant Papuan independence movement since 1969. Read more…

Building security and integration in the Asia Pacific


Author: David Huang, Academia Sinica

The current strategic environment in the Asia Pacific can be characterised by an intensifying competition (mixed with some cooperation) between China and the US. As the strategic competition between these two countries is likely to intensify, whether they prefer to accommodate or confront each other will have spillover effects on other Asia Pacific countries’ decisions. Read more…

Why is the US upping the ante in the South China Sea?

An aerial photograph made available by the Armed Forces of the Philippines shows construction at Chigua (Kennan) Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on 19 February 2015, appearing to show extensive land reclamation and building done by China in disputed territories. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nick Bisley, La Trobe University

Since March 2015 the US has hardened its attitude toward China’s activities in the South China Sea. Beijing appears genuinely surprised by the shift in tone and behaviour. In the past, the US has taken a more measured approach. So why has it escalated its language and flagged risky military exercises in the South China Sea? Why does the US risk upsetting the tenor of Sino–American relations over rocks, islets and reefs? Read more…