Unrestricted Warfare in the South China Sea: A 12-month forecast

The South China Sea (SCS) rivalry between China and the Philippines centres around territorial disputes. Rich in resources, the South China Sea has been the focal point of China’s aggressive maritime strategy. Harassment of Filipino vessels and the development of artificial islands into military outposts has increased tensions. Supported by international law, the Philippines contests China’s territorial claims. In 2016, a tribunal at the Hague rejected China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of the ‘nine-dash line’. Geopolitical rivalry is exacerbated by the South China Sea’s strategic significance as a major maritime trade route. As the Philippines looks for diplomatic solutions to defend against China’s expanding influence in the disputed waters, the international community keeps a close eye on developments.

Key Judgement 1. The Chinese Coast Guard will highly likely increase naval actions against the Philippines’ civilian and naval in the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 2. Legal tensions regarding territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea are very likely to rise in the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 3.  Chinese and Filipino investment into South China Sea facilities and naval capacities are highly likely to grow in the next 12 months.

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