The EU has been content to remain a marginal actor in the maritime sovereignty disputes in the East and South China Seas. It has adopted a diplomatic strategy that stresses the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and confidence building between the states party to the conflict. As argued here, this approach does not take account of the crucial interests Europe has at stake in the conflict. It is made even less tenable by China’s increasingly assertive behaviour towards securing its sovereignty in the region. Europe is at a crossroads: the EU may seek to overcome internal and external challenges to enhance its hard power capabilities, or it may continue to pursue a wholly soft power approach. Either way, how the EU deals with the current dispute will determine, in large part, its future role as a global security actor.
|Early online date||10 Oct 2019|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 10 Oct 2019|
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- South China Sea
- Southeast Asia