The South China Sea Dispute: US-China Rivalry, Lawfare and the Prospects for a Code of Conduct


About the Webinar

Tensions in the South China Sea have escalated in the first half of this year due to a series of actions and counteractions taken by the claimant states as well as growing US-China rivalry. To counter China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, the Trump administration has significantly stepped up freedom of navigation operations and presence missions in the area. In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected China’s claims as “completely unlawful” and criticised Beijing for engaging in a “campaign of bullying”. There has also been a war of words between the Chinese and American embassies in Southeast Asia over the dispute. The Southeast Asian claimants have continued to assert their claims to varying degrees while trying to navigate the intricacies of great power dynamics. ASEAN itself also has a stake in the overall peace and stability of the region. This webinar will discuss key issues such as the significance of the latest US position on the South China Sea, China’s calculations and objectives, as well as the responses and options of key ASEAN claimant states such as Vietnam and the Philippines. It will further examine the prospects of ASEAN and China concluding negotiations for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea by 2021 as well as Japan’s views and position on the disputes in the area.

About the Speakers

Mr Julio S. Amador III is the Executive Director of the Philippine-American Educational Foundation and Senior Research Fellow on national and international security at the Ateneo Policy Center.

Dr Ryan Clarke is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute. His career has spanned defence and intelligence technology, investment banking, biodefence, strategic R&D, strategic assessments and emergency response.

Ms Hoang Thi Ha is a Lead Researcher for Political and Security Affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. She was previously with the ASEAN Secretariat as Head of the Political Cooperation Division.

Dr Lam Peng Er is a Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute. Apart from Japan’s domestic politics, he also examines Japan’s relations with the big powers and Southeast Asia including the South China Sea dispute.

Dr Le Hong Hiep is a Fellow at the Vietnam Studies Programme of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute where he focuses on Vietnam’s politics and foreign policy.

Dr Li Nan is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute. He has taught and published extensively on Chinese security and military policy and China’s maritime development.

Dr Ian Storey is Senior Fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and co-editor of Contemporary Southeast Asia. He has been writing about the South China Sea dispute for 25 years.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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For the best experience, please mute your microphone. If you have questions for the speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.


Sep 18 2020


10:00 am - 11:45 am