Dissertations@Portsmouth - Details for item no. 14414

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Mandelli, Annalisa (2022) China’s ambiguous foreign policy: a case study of the Philippines in the South China Sea. (unpublished BA dissertation), University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth


The South China Sea Islands are subject to overlapping claims by different Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Indonesia as well as China. Additionally, the United States is also meddling in the region by supporting Asia-Pacific countries’ claims against Beijing’s declaration of sovereignty, given their economic interests in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea (SCS), owing to the fact that it is considered the epicentre of Global Trade (Percival, 2014). China is by far the most prominent claimant to declare sovereignty over the maritime territory in the Asia-Pacific region, encompassing the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. Given its strategic position and the natural resources as well as trade routes, the SCS has been a focal point in Southeast Asia’s international affairs in recent years. Although China has increased its militarisation of the islands in the SCS in the past decades, the tensions have not aroused into a military escalation. Notwithstanding, the SCS region remains a dangerous flashpoint for a possible military conflict. This dissertation will argue that Beijing is nourishing tensions by preserving its maritime claims whilst establishing its relations with other claimants through the lens of its ambiguous foreign policy, namely its assertive and low-profile approach. The focus is, therefore, on two aspects of China’s foreign policy. To address the aims and research question, this paper will examine how Beijing adopts an ambiguous foreign policy towards the Philippines by applying the key criteria that determine ‘low-profile approach’ and ‘assertiveness’. These criteria include economic vulgarity, military aggressiveness and growing cooperation. China is therefore acting both as an aggressor and as an ally to other claimants in the SCS region, drawing the conclusion that China is maintaining an ambiguous position towards the dispute without causing an armed conflict.

Course: International Relations and Languages - BA (Hons) - C1727

Date Deposited: 2024-05-15

URI/permalink: https://www.library.port.ac.uk/dissert/dis14414.html