South China Sea: Pathways to Peace


Asia: Beyond the Headlines

Public reception from 5:30 pm

Asia Society is pleased to present a top-level discussion examining the ways in which the South China Sea dispute might be disentangled while avoiding disastrous conflict between its major players. The controversy surrounding the South China Sea has become a highly divisive international dispute. Stakeholders’ positions are well-established: maps delineate an overlapping and conflicting array of claims, and diplomats and leaders appeal to both legal codes and ancient tracts to support their views of how the sea should be divided among states in the region.   Below the waters potentially lie 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and immense fisheries. The sea is also crucial to global trade and commerce: an estimated fifty percent of the world’s oil tankers pass through these waters, and as economic activity in Southeast Asia increases, so too will the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation.

The situation threatens to cloud Sino-American relations. Many observers see a growing assertiveness to Chinese maritime claims, while U.S. treaty allies like the Philippines and Japan and partners like Vietnam assert their claims to territory and access in the seas surrounding China. This growing tension threatens cooperation in Asia, and creates the potential for inadvertent conflict.

In this discussion, a group of distinguished scholars and analysts will explore some of the key questions about the future of the South China Sea. What are the international community’s options in seeking a resolution to this dispute? Will great power politics override the desire for peace and stability? What answers might international law afford? And how can business and trade considerations be brought to bear? 



Peter Dutton, Professor of Strategic Studies and Director of the China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College

Robert D. Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst, Stratfor; author; Foreign Correspondent, The Atlantic

Holly Morrow, Fellow, the Geopolitics of Energy Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

Zha Daojiong, (via Skype) Professor of International Political Economy, Peking University

Orville Schell (moderator), Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society


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See more Asia Society programming on this topic: 

South China Sea: Central to Asia Pacific Peace and Security (Conference) 

China's Maritime Provocations, article by Susan Shirk, Chair of the 21st Century China Program

Book excerpt from Robert D. Kaplan's Asia's Cauldron 

Can't make it to this program? Tune in to at 6:30 pm New York time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to or via Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #AskAsia.

Event Details

Wed 12 Nov 2014
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
725 Park Avenue New York, NY
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Members: Free; Students/Seniors: $12; Nonmembers: $15
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