Identity matters ... even in maritime security : China, Japan and maritime cooperation in East Asia
Date of Issue2016
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
East Asia's maritime domain represents today one of the world's most complex security hotspots. The rise of China has been redefining the region’s international relations and power dynamics, triggering apprehensions in the neighbourhood and beyond. Despite a high level of economic interdependence, sovereignty disputes, naval modernisation programmes and lack of effective maritime security cooperation in the region are the causes, as well as the results of the pervasive climate of mistrust and rivalry. In order to correctly understand and interpret regional maritime security dynamics, this thesis proposes to look at the role of perceptions and national identity. Subscribing to the Constructivist school of thought, it argues that the way States perceive themselves, each other, the international system and their role within it, shapes their national interests and influences their foreign policy, including the use of maritime power. The influence of perceptions is sought for in the approaches of China and Japan, the two most important regional players, to cooperation in the East China Sea, in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, and in marine environmental governance. Cooperation in functional maritime domains should constitute a common ground for consensus, and even serve as a catalyst for enhancing broader security cooperation in the long run. However, given the specific, transnational character of maritime management in the twenty-first century, this would require States to rise above the traditional Westphalian understanding of sovereignty and beyond the Realist mind-sets.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science