Great Powers in South China Sea

Wahyu Dwi Anggoro    •    01 September 2016 12:58 WIB
south china sea
Great Powers in South China Sea
Illustration (Photo: AFP), Jakarta: The South China Sea dispute is one of the most complicated issues in the region.

Ralf Emmers, associate dean at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, believes the issue is not only about contest between the claimant states, but also rivalry between the great powers.

"It is increasingly a symptom of great power politics," Emmers said during an international workshop, here, Thursday (9/1/2016).

The actors in the South China Sea issue can be divided into few categories. China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei are the claimant states.

Meanwhile, countries like Indonesia and Singapore are non-claimant states that have interests in the area. Lastly, the United States is great power that has big influence in the region.

For China, the involvement of the United States in the issue only makes things worse. In contrary, for the United States, Chinese assertiveness escalates tension in the area.

"It is a classic case of security dillemma," Emmers continued.

According to him, the main purpose of the ASEAN countries is to find the right position between China and the United States. In one hand, ASEAN countries need China to develop their economies. In the other hand, they need the United States as a hedge toward China.

"The most likely scenario is the one that we currently have. It allows the ASEAN countries to hedge between China and the US," he concluded.