January 09, 2012

Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea

American interests are increasingly at risk in the South China Sea due to the economic and military rise of China and concerns about its willingness to uphold existing legal norms. The United States and countries throughout the region have a deep and abiding interest in sea lines of communication that remain open to all, both for commerce and for peaceful military activity. China, however, continues to challenge that openness, both by questioning historical maritime norms and by developing military capabilities that allow it to threaten access to this maritime region.

Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea, a six-chapter volume featuring a capstone chapter authored by Patrick M. Cronin, CNAS Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program, and Robert D. Kaplan, CNAS Senior Fellow, helps U.S. policymakers understand the trends affecting American interests in the South China Sea. It includes insightful chapters on U.S. strategy in the South China Sea, maritime security, diplomacy and the rule of law, natural resources and partnership building by some of the world’s leading experts on the Asia-Pacific region.

Please note that chapters are bookmarked within the Table of Contents.

Chapter I: Cooperation from Strength: U.S. Strategy and the South China Sea
By Patrick M. Cronin and Robert D. Kaplan

Chapter II: Maritime Security in the South China Sea and the Competition over Maritime Rights
By M. Taylor Fravel

Chapter III: China’s Bilateral and Multilateral Diplomacy in the South China Sea
By Ian Storey

Chapter IV: Cracks in the Global Foundation: International Law and Instability in the South China Sea
By Peter A. Dutton

Chapter V: The Role of Natural Resources in the South China Sea
By Will Rogers

Chapter VI: Rough Waters for Coalition Building
By James R. Holmes

*Please note, an earlier version of this report contained an error on Pages 5 and 7. It has been corrected to read: "The South China Sea functions as the throat of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans - a mass of connective economic tissue where global sea routes coalesce, accounting for $1.2 trillion in U.S. trade annually."


  • Patrick M. Cronin

    Former Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Patrick M. Cronin is a former Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the ...

  • Robert D. Kaplan

    Adjunct Senior Fellow

    Robert D. Kaplan is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, originally joining the Center in March 2008. He is the bestselling author of eighteen b...

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