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Security Issues in 21st Century Asia

March 3, 2016

Considering the on-going crisis in the South China Seas, the Southeast Asia Center organized a panel for army officers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to discuss the issues and provide insight from the viewpoints of Southeast Asian nations, India, and China. Professors David Bachman and Anand Yang from the UW Jackson School of International Studies discussed what was at stake there for China and India, respectively. Kai Ostwald of the University of British Columbia provided a history of Southeast Asian nation claims to the South China Seas and specifically Indonesia’s concerns and role in the area. While access to resources (fishing, oil, and gas) are certainly motivating factors, internationally, the area is being watched for adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, particularly with regard to right of innocent passage and freedom of navigation, both for ships and for aircraft. China’s aggressive actions and their infamous “9-dash line”, which seems to claim much of the South China Sea as China’s, have sparked alarm in other nations. The Philippines filed a international suit against China before the International Tribunal of the United Nations to protest China’s construction of artificial islands with the Philippines’ 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) A discussion and Q&A session followed the panel discussions, during which the army officers, UW students and UW faculty engaged in spirited discussion and debate.