Sino-Southeast Asian Ties: Problems and Prospects

Swaran Singh, Research Fellow, IDSA


Southeast Asia has always been one of the foremost concerns of China's successive ruling regimes. Keeping in mind their 'Middle Kingdom' view of the world their control over these neighbouring countries and oceans was always considered integral to China's great power profile since ancient times and even today the Chinese take pride in the fact that Admiral Chang He's 300-boats strong navy had once dominated the entire Asia-Pacific. It was only during communist China's first 25 years that Mao had virtually closed the doors to much of the outside world and Beijing sought to deal with Southeast Asian countries through the Communist Party outfits that operated directly against the national interest of the host countries. Most of these Southeast Asian countries had as well drifted in favour of China's ousted Guomintang regime in Taiwan and gradually they evolved into front-runners of the United States' policy of Containment. It was not until the Sino-American détente of the early 1970s that communist China evolved state to state relations with Southeast Asian countries.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) since then has not only expanded to cover all the ten Southeast Asian countries but to obtain larger power profile it also shares larger borders with mainland China and has also moved away from its original mandate of being an anti-communist alliance. According to the official statistics by China's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (Moftec) until June 1997, China had established 529 joint ventures in Southeast Asian countries involving a total investment of $850 million. For the same period, the Southeast Asian countries had established over 12,938 projects in China with a total contracted investment of $37.25 billion of which they had already invested $10.64 billion.1 Similarly, China's bilateral trade with these Southeast Asian countries has gone up from $3.35 billion for 1986 to $45.56 billion for 1998. In fact, in 1996, Thailand became the first ASEAN country to receive military aid worth $3 million from China that marks a virtual U-turn in its policies.2 It is in this changed new context of the emerging power centres of both China and ASEAN as also their increasing acceptance of each other that this paper tries to examine and highlight various problems and prospects for the future of Sino-Southeast Asian ties.

Genesis and Growth of Sino-Southeast Asian Ties

To begin by examining some of the basic determinants in the evolution of Sino-Southeast Asian ties during the last 50 years, the Cold war has been one most visible framework in which most scholars have analysed their mutual policies and perceptions. Considering that East Asia has always been China's single most important concern during this period, its perceived pre-eminence as a military power in this region has made it excessively concerned with the role of other great powers in the Asia-Pacific region. This perhaps explains why China had intervened in Korea during the 1950s and why it assisted North Vietnam with men and material during the 1960s and the 1970s. Later, the increasing Soviet indulgence was one of the reasons why the Chinese decided to "teach Vietnam a lesson" during 1979. Similarly, ASEAN was denounced during the 1960s as "Asian Lackeys" of the Americans yet, following its entente with Washington in 1971, Beijing had begun supporting Malaysia and Indonesia in their claims to administer the Straits of Malacca and opened diplomatic ties with them from the mid-1970s. This posture on the Straits of Malacca issue was partly goaded by China's unhappy equations with Moscow that had begun pressing for the internationalisation of these Straits. In the same way, in 1973, Beijing officially endorsed Malaysia's proposal for the establishment of Southeast Asian zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality. In the same manner, of course, if Sino-American entente of the early 1970s had also caused a wedge between Sino-Vietnam ties, the Sino-Russian and Sino-American strategic partnership of the 1990s has similarly facilitated Sino-ASEAN rapprochement that has shown results during recent years.

Secondly, China's policy towards Southeast Asia has also been analysed in the framework of China's 'Middle Kingdom' mindset behind its policies. China's policies towards Southeast Asia had always been characterised less by the urge to acquire control of adjacent countries, for example, by the imposition of client buffer states, than by the concern to deny control of the area by its major superpower adversaries.3 This was so because China's superpower fixation did not flow simply from its Cold War equations with major powers but had its roots in the historical legacies. Before the advent of European colonial powers most of these Southeast Asian kingdoms had often been China's tributaries. Some of them like Vietnam and Burma had actually once been part of the Chinese empire and directly ruled by China's emperors. In case of others, the Chinese imperial court was often invited to settle claims between rivals for a local throne. Some of these equations had survived until as late as the 1930s and Mao had repeatedly talked of retrieving China's Southeast Asian territories until as late as 1960s.4 Some of this was also reflected in China's contemporary thinking and actions. As late as May 1997, for example, China published an Atlas of Shame, charting out graphic details of its humiliation at the hands of colonial powers of the past century.5 This clearly shows the centrality of these historical legacies in China's contemporary thinking and policies.

Thirdly, the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia have been another critical factor determining their mutual perceptions and policies. More than their absolute numbers, these ethnic Chinese have played a vital economic and commercial role in Southeast Asian countries though it has varied from state of state and from time to time. Also, it is the way China's leaders have continued to interact with these overseas Chinese that has turned into a major influence on the Sino-Southeast Asian ties. In addition to allowing them to retain their dual citizenship, Beijing has extended them other incentives encouraging them to maintain ties with their families inside mainland China and to continue to send remittances and investments. Chinese leaders have often talked of them in terms of "great Chinese family" and continued extending support of these "compatriots" by expressing strong concern about their welfare. Throughout the last 50 years, there have been allegations of China sponsoring local Communist Parties as also involving them in various surveillance tasks that go against the fundamental interests of their host countries. Considering that their dual citizenship allows them to avoid assimilating into local socio-political cultures, their prosperity and the rise of China's prowess has often made overseas Chinese the target of the local populations ire, thereby causing tension between China and its Southeast Asian neighbours. Beijing, however, explains its patronising attitude in terms of its economic policies as over 60 per cent of its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) comes from overseas Chinese in East Asian countries.

Fourthly, it is their changing state to state bilateral equations that have often played a decisive role in determining their mutual policies. This had major limitations as no formal ties with Southeast Asia had existed during the first 25 years of communist China's existence. Malaysia, with 25 per cent population being ethnic Chinese, was the first to open diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1974. Thailand (with 12 per cent ethnic Chinese) and the Philippines followed suit in 1975. The Prime Minister of Singapore city-state (where ethnic Chinese constitute 97 per cent of the population) has visited China as early as 1976 and reached an understanding on its special status and that it would delay its official recognition until Indonesia had resumed ties with China. Indonesia had been one of the first Southeast Asian countries to befriend China during the 1960s, but it had "suspended" its diplomatic ties with China in October 1967 which made it one of the last countries to come to terms with ASEAN's growing acceptance of Beijing.6 Conversely, these improved bilateral ties were to greatly facilitate Southeast Asian countries in managing their ethnic Chinese minorities. Especially, in the case of a country like Vietnam, despite overseas Chinese minority being only 1.56 per cent they have posed a major problem in successive years and this is partly because Vietnam has been the most vocal anti-China voice amongst the Southeast Asian countries.

And finally, misinformation and a distorted view of each other's ideology and political culture had also played a dominant role during these formative years until the mid-1970s. During the first 25 years, in the face of a relative lack of first hand knowledge about each other, the first three aforesaid factors played the most important part in laying the foundation of what has followed during these last 25 years. To a certain extent, their bilateral equations with Beijing also determined the intra-regional equations amongst these Southeast Asian countries. And here, opposite policies by countries like Thailand and Malaysia towards Vietnam presents an ideal reference point. Similarly, each of these countries have displayed an entirely different attitude towards their maritime disputes with China's claims in the South China Sea which perhaps presents the most live facet of their collective confrontation with Beijing. But thanks to the mixed influence of aforementioned factors, South China Sea also represents the most vivid example of how ASEAN has not been able to evolve a common approach in dealing with this single most critical issue determining Sino-Southeast equations.

Maritime Interests and Disputes: The South China Sea

South China Sea is a semi-enclosed water body which is dotted all over with specks of islands and atolls. It is surrounded by China and Taiwan from the north, Vietnam in the west, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei in the south and Philippines in the east with each of them having overlapping claims over part or whole of this maritime area. What makes it is the most critical issue in Sino-Southeast Asian ties is the fact that China lays claims to the whole of the South China Sea. And, what makes ascertaining these claims a difficult exercise is the fact that most of these islands happens to be sitting literally mid-ocean where the floor depth drops immediately to almost upto 3,000 meters, making it difficult to identify these islands as extension of the continental shelf of the concerned littoral states.7 Also, this competition involves more than one of the aforesaid factors and it is the economic and geo-strategic advantage rather than historical, legal and proximity arguments that seem to have dominated the more recent debates amongst these countries. Amongst these, China has been perhaps the most ambitious contender, and it wishes to acquire an exclusive economic zone based on its sovereignty over these reefs and islands which amounts to claiming areas virtually upto the very shores of countries like Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.

The South China Sea, therefore, forms the microcosm of the complex of Sino-Southeast Asian equations and must be examined in that spirit. At the same time, it represents a highly complex framework which not only combines historical legacies, strategic interests, and a race for exploiting its sea-bed resources like oil and gas but also happens to be the epicenter of all maritime activity amongst countries of the Asia-Pacific. South China Sea happens to be the hub for over 25 per cent of the world's shipping which includes most of the energy imports of China's rivals like Japan, Taiwan and the Koreas.8 Therefore, control over the South China Sea means much more to China than ensuring free access to open seas. As a result, equations between these littoral states have been determined by a variety of domestic, regional and global factors as perceived in each of these countries. The famous oil crisis of 1973 was, for example, one of the important reasons to catapult the South China Sea into the center stage of Sino-Southeast Asian equations. This was followed by a rapid pace of development in both China and Southeast Asia leading to a sharp increase in their energy consumption, which were becoming increasingly dependent on their offshore resources.

To have a quick look at the current state of affairs with regard to various claims, these islands of the South China Sea are generally classified under four major groups namely, Paracels, Spratlys, Pratas, and Macclesfield Bank and different islands have been occupied by different powers. The issue of sovereignty over the Pratas and Macclesfield Bank, controlled by Taiwan, has been lying dormant, just like China's claims to the whole of Taiwan and they have not involved any claims from any of the Southeast Asian countries. Also, it is the Paracels and Spratlys group of islands that have been considered critical for sustaining the whole range of maritime rights and interests of all the claimant countries.9 Compared to the Spratlys, even the Paracels seems to be a relatively small and settled affair. The Paracels group, which comprises 15 islands and several sand banks and reefs is situated less than 150 nautical miles from the southern coast of China's Hanin island, and about 240 nautical miles from Da Nang in Vietnam. Since 1974, these islands have been under the control of China which has reportedly built a 2.6 km long air-strip on the Woody Island and developed other naval and storage facilities that obtain for the PLA a jumping off capability by about 300 km while operating in the Spratlys.10

The Spratlys, by comparison, is a much larger group of over 230 islands and atolls and it falls far south from mainland China and much nearer to the other Southeast Asian countries. Also, only seven islands have more than 0.1 km area that stays above water during the high-tide. Thity, the largest island of this group has an area of about 625 square yards, and is controlled by The Phillippines.11 The Spratlys stretch for over 500 nautical miles from north to south and at the nearest point it measures less than 100 nautical miles from the coasts of either The Philippines or Malaysia, while the nearest point from Vietnam is about 350 nautical miles, while it is about 400 nautical miles from the southernmost tip of China's Paracels.12 The farthest southernmost end-point of the Spratlys stretches 1,800 nautical miles distance from China's undisputed territory on Hainan Island, and it nearly touches the Natuna Island held by Indonesia.13 Although China today happens to be the most powerful amongst all these countries, it is Vietnam that still controls the largest number of islands in the Spratlys. Also, in more recent years, The Philippines and Vietnam, are two countries that have been repeatedly involved in regular problems with China over their overlapping claims in the Spratlys which has resulted in increasing militarisation of the Spratlys and increased naval activity in their periphery.

Beijing's Engagement and Encroachments

While most Southeast Asian countries have put forward the proximity argument to support their claims in the Spratlys, China's arguments have been essentially based on historical administrative logic that emphasises on how the Chinese had been the first to discover and exploit all these islands and therefore have an overriding claim compared to other littoral states.14 They put forward documentary evidence to show how in 1883 the Qing government had protested the presence of German surveyors in the South China Sea and in 1907 dispatched its senior military personnel to some of these islands. They cite examples of ancient Chinese coins being found on some of these islands, all this to support China's territorial rights over these islands.15 The Chinese scholars also cite geological studies linking mainland China to some of these islands of the South China Sea.

As regards China's post 1947 official assertions, it was following World War II that these islands had first come to their notice as Japan as a defeated power was made to surrender all these islands. However, they lay completely neglected during the 1950s and 1960s as China was military involved in more difficult situations in Korea (during the 1950s), with India (early 1960s) and with Vietnam and former Soviet Union (during late 1960s). Meanwhile, China had continued to make statements that were never seriously followed up until the beginning of the 1970s. Amongst these, the oft cited first official exposition of communist China's claim over the South China Sea was made at the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference where Zhou En-lai, then foreign minister of the PRC, had criticised the proposed US-British Draft Treaty with Japan in the following manner:

The Draft Treaty stipulates that Japan should renounce all rights to Nan Wai (Spratlys) Islands and Si Sha (Paracels) Islands, but again deliberately makes no mention of the problem of restoring China's sovereignty over them. As a matter of fact, just like all the Nan Sha Islands, Chung Sha (Macclesfield Bank) Islands and Tung Sha (Pratas) Islands, Si Sha Islands and Nan Wei Islands have always been China's territory.16

The real assertion of authority over the South China Sea, however, began only during the early 1970s when People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) launched its first survey in the Amphitrite Group, the easternmost cluster of two island groups making up the Paracel archipelago.17 To start with, various meteorological, topographical and geological surveys were conducted and finally a meteorological station was established on the largest island of this group, the Woody Island. Later, in January 1974, the western cluster of the Paracels, the Crecent Group, was also annexed from (then) South Vietnam that was seriously engaged in a military conflict with North Vietnam. Once the Paracels was firmly under control, the PLAN's further advances towards the Spratlys was initiated on November 8, 1980 when two Hong-6 bombers patrolled the Spratlys. Orders for this had reportedly come directly from China's Central Military Commission (CMC) in Beijing.18 By the mid 1980s, these air patrols and aerial photography had become a routine affair. This was now accompanied by extensive oceanographic surveys and, in 1987, China decided to set up an Observation Station in the Spratlys as well. This was strongly contested by Vietnam but after a brief military encounter on May 14, 1988, China successfully occupied seven islands in the Spratlys and it has continued to occupy them till date.19

But the 1990s have witnessed China adopt a dual policy vis-à-vis Southeast Asian countries that stresses on the joint development of these islands while at the same time Beijing has continued consolidating its advantages in power equations. As China emerges as the next global power and further expands its operational reach into Spratlys and beyond this dual policy has become an imperative of its growing need to achieve acceptability amongst its neighbouring countries. This has witnessed China signing a series of bilateral agreements renouncing use of military power in settling its claims in the Spratlys. But these code of conduct agreements have been breached by both sides. A more subtle expression of China's thinking has been provided in various other policy initiatives. One such expression of its future thinking had come during February 1992 when China's National People's Congress (NPC) passed a law on China's exclusive economic zone and territorial waters declaring its sovereignty over the whole of South China Sea. This was seen as part of China's attempts to fill the "power vacuum" in Asia-Pacific which has occurred following the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the closing of Moscow's military bases in Cam Rahn Bay (Vietnam) and that of Washington in the Subic Bay (The Philippines). The tenor of China's military modernisation has also continued to point to similar conclusions.20 But the later 1990s witnessed both sides adopting a more conciliatory policy though, at the same time, Beijing has continued to reiterate its "indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters".21 As a result of this dual policy of confrontation and conciliation, there have been few violent incursions in the South China Sea and yet, China has signed various cooperation agreements with countries like Thailand and the Philippines and finally achieved the demarcation and deminisation of Sino-Vietnam borders.

ASEAN's Containment through Engagement

One way to show how the end of the Cold War had briefly unearthed various local flashpoints between China and Southeast Asia and revived elements of the Containment policy of 1950s is to cite the statistics on their annual defence allocations during the 1990s. While the collapse of the former Soviet Union had brought the global defence expenditure down from $1,297 billion for 1988 to merely 727 billion for 1996, the figures for Asia had actually risen sharply from $140 billion to $230 billion for the same period. And, it was the rise in the defence spending by China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia that was primarily responsible for this strange occurrence in the case of Asia.22 Signaling the rudiments of a military competition between China and Southeast Asia their defence allocations had witnessed a sharp increase during 1992-1995 period. But they have since come down to more moderate annual growth rates and all this shows a substantive corelation between the rise and fall of defence allocations from both sides.

The only visible difference in their growth rates has been the fact that while the rise in the case of China has been far more stable and steady and has continued in the same manner, the fluctuations in the case of ASEAN have been far wider and inconsistent. They show a collective rise by 37.68 per cent for 1995-96 and this has since become as low as 8.61 per cent for 1997-98.23 In the case of individual countries, this annual increase was as high as 142 per cent and 105 per cent by Myanmar during 1990 and 1994, by over 94 per cent in Vietnam for 1995 and by about 88 per cent by Indonesia also for 1995. Similarly, there was negative growth of 12.5 per cent in Myanmar for 1998, 13 and 12 per cent in The Philippines during 1990 and 1994 while Thailand showed a negative growth of 6.4 per cent during 1997.24 Especially, seen in the context of recent currency devaluation of upto 40-50 per cent, this decline in ASEAN's annual defence allocations becomes far sharper when calculated in dollar terms. This East Asian financial crisis may be described as one important reason for this downturn in Southeast Asia's military build-up. These trends far precede the recent financial crisis which shows that the improvement in Sino-Southeast Asian ties has been responsible for this positive environment amongst these countries.

Apart from China's improving bilateral equations with each of these Southeast Asian countries, their coming together on common multilateral forums like ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Ministerial Meet (AMM), ASEAN Post Ministerial Meet (PMC), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) etc. have been an apparent exception in China's foreign ties. Until it joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992, Beijing, as a policy, had shunned all multilateral negotiations outside the United Nations. Especially, going by China's role during the recent East Asian financial crisis, China has apparently surpassed all other major powers in taking a proactive approach to Asian affairs and this has been highly appreciated by most of the Southeast Asian countries.25 The fact that China was at the forefront of initiatives by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made a contribution of $4 billion and, above all, has remained determined not to devalue its Renminbi despite suffering lower growth rates in its foreign trade has earned China greater confidence amongst the Southeast Asian countries.26

One important pointer to China's growing acceptance amongst ASEAN lies in its rapidly growing bilateral trade with these countries. And going by the current trends in ASEAN's external trade during 1990s, China seems all set to emerge as one of the most important trading partners of Southeast Asian countries. What appears most astonishing is that while ASEAN's bilateral trade with all major powers like the United States, Japan and the European Union shows a sharp decline during the late 1990s, China's share has continued to show a steady rise and the return of Hong Kong during 1997 has particularly tipped the balance in Beijing's favour. China seems all set to soon catch up with these other major powers during the next few years. In a long-term analysis as well, ASEAN's bilateral trade between 1993-1998 shows an increase of 54 per cent for the United States and by 28 per cent for the European Union while Japan's trade with ASEAN has actually declined by 2.7 per cent. For the same period, China's trade with ASEAN by comparison has increased by over 137 per cent without inclusion of Hong Kong and by over 414 per cent by including Hong Kong.

Though, these positive actions may have improved their security environment yet this has not resolved their outstanding disputes and mutual suspicion. The policy of containment still very much continues to define the bottomline of Southeast Asia's policies towards China though, having failed to contain China's rise as the next global power, Southeast Asian countries seem to have settled for a new policy of 'Containment-through-Engagement'. Also, much of this shift seems to have occurred following China's improving relations with both Moscow and Washington where Washington has partly been responsible for moderating the ASEAN's China policies while the Sino-Russian strategic partnership may have neutralised anti-China voices from countries like Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos. But this also means that any negative shift in China's ties with these big powers may also derail its rapprochement with Southeast Asian countries. Therefore, to ensure that their equations do not remain as vulnerable to its equations with external great powers, both sides have been working towards evolving a more lasting framework of Sino-Southeast Asian ties by institutionalising their expanding interactions since the late 1990s.

Sino-Southeast Asian Rapprochement

The earliest sinews of China's formal interactions with ASEAN forum (which today encompasses the whole of Southeast Asia) can be traced to as early as July 19 1991 when the (then) Chinese foreign minister, Qian Qichen, had been invited to the opening session of the 24th AMM in Kuala Lumpur as a guest of the Malaysian Government. It is here that he had, for the first time, formally expressed China's interest in strengthening cooperation with ASEAN. Nothing concrete happened for the next two years though China continued to attend these meetings as a consultation partner of ASEAN. It was only during September 11-18, 1993, that ASEAN reciprocated in the form of a visit by its Secretary-General Dato' Ajit Singh, who signed two agreements in Beijing setting up two Joint Committees, one for economic and trade cooperation and the other for cooperation in science and technology.27 Later, with an exchange of letters on July 23, 1994 the two sides also agreed to engage in consultations on political and security issues of common concern at the Senior Officials level. China was also admitted as a member from the very launching session of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) July 25, 1994 in Bangkok. And finally, in July 1996, China was accorded full Dialogue Partner status that today makes Beijing party to a series of annual ASEAN discussions at forums like the AMM, ARF, PMC, APEC and so on.28

China has also since set up various other bilateral forums that overlook their mutual cooperation under various categories. In February 1997, for example, China and ASEAN announced setting up five parallel mechanisms that today define the framework for Sino-ASEAN interactions and activities. First and foremost among these is the ASEAN-China Joint Cooperation Committee (ACJCC) which also operates as the nodal agency to review, approve and facilitate projects of various other agencies. These include the ASEAN-China Senior Officials Consultations, ASEAN-China Joint Committee on Economic and Trade Cooperation, ASEAN-China Joint Committee on Science and Technology and the ASEAN Committee in Beijing. The two sides also launched an ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund and established a Joint Management Committee to manage this fund.29 These bilateral forums make their interactions fairly autonomous from any external influences and their joint working experience has already resulted in their increased coordination in various international forums. Their mutual understanding on sensitive issues like human rights has in fact brought them closer together against the same countries that had once sought to dictate their policies to these countries and to divide them against each other.

And finally, in a far broader context, Sino-Southeast Asian interactions have also shown encouraging trends at the popular level of people-to-people contacts. It is the process of expanding people-to-people contacts that will provide the ultimate lasting elements to these expanding Sino-Southeast Asian ties as also to generate a popular mass base for future cooperation amongst these countries. And going by the current trends, Southeast Asia has already emerged as a popular destination for Chinese tourists. According to the statistics of the tourism department, the number of Chinese going abroad increased by 25 per cent per annum during 1995-97. About 80 per cent of this increase was recorded amongst those going to the following four destinations, namely Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.30 And thanks to the recent devaluation in these Southeast countries the number of Chinese visiting them has shown a still greater rise. All this surely augurs very well for the future of Sino-Southeast Asian ties. The same has also been true of the flow to the Chinese mainland of tourists from these Southeast countries.


To conclude, therefore, despite all their problems both ASEAN members and China seem all set to emerge as major regional actors and this fact seems to be now so recognised and endorsed by most other powers that matter. Especially, these Southeast Asian countries no longer remain divided on the basis of ideologies nor do they any longer remain poor and backward and therefore vulnerable to great power pressure tactics. ASEAN has expanded to include all the ten Southeast Asian countries most of which have been the models of dynamic economic growth during the 1980s. And, despite their financial difficulties during the late 1990s, how they view themselves will determine their future role in the coming years. And, it is this self-perception on both sides that, in turn, will determine their policies and perceptions about each other as also other important actors in their periphery. However, neither China nor ASEAN states can afford today to either ignore or even annoy the other party if it has to ensure continued peace on its border which has come to be an imperative for their development dynamics which bear a direct corelation to their domestic peace and stability and to the political career graphs of their important political personalities. And here, while the ultimate aim of China's leaders remains to grasp the political and economic leadership in the entire Asia-Pacific and establish their position as the next global superpower in-the-making, the emerging bloc of Southeast Asian countries may be temporarily down but is not yet out and, therefore, it is China's equations with these Southeast Asian countries that will play a major role in determining as to whether and when Beijing's dream will turn into reality.



1. He Kai, "Looking Back and to the Future of China-ASEAN Relations", Beijing Review (Beijing), Vol. 41, No. 8, (February 23-March 1, 1998), pp. 6-7.

2. Anuraj Manibhandu, Saritdet Marukatat and Achara Ashayagachat, "China Ties Might Need a Rethink", Bangkok Post (Bangkok, July 21 1997, p. 9)

3. Michael Yahuda, Towards the End of Isolationism: China's Foreign Policy After Mao, (London: The Macmillan Press, 1983), p. 219.

4. Edgar Snow, Red Star over China, (London: Pelican, 1972), p. 505; also Wang Gungwu, "Early Ming Relations with Southeast Asia: A Background Essay", in J.K. Fairbank (ed.), The Chinese World Order, (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1967), pp. 48-9.

5. Ji Guoxing, "China Versus South China Sea Security", Security Dialogue (Oslo), vol. 29 n. 1 (March 1998), p. 102.

6. Jay Taylor, China and Southeast Asia: Peking's Relations with Revolutionary Movements, (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1976), p. 83.

7. Hangdah Chiu, "South China Sea Islands: Implications for Delimiting the Seabed and Future Shipping Routes", Chinese Quarterly (London), no. 72 (December 1977), p. 745.

8. Barber B Conable Jr. and David Lampton, "China: The Coming Power", Foreign Affairs (Winter 1992/93), pp. 141-42.

9. Hungdah Chiu and Choo-ho Part, "Legal Status of the Paracel and Spratley Islands", Ocean Development and International Law Journal, vol. 3 no. 1 (January 1975), p. 9.

10. "China Boosts Presence in South China Sea", International Defence Review, (May 1994), p. 10.

11. Stephen Parksmith, "Spratly Claims Conflict", Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, (Annual Reference Edition, 1993), p. 48.

12. Chi-kin Lo, China's Policy Towards Territorial Disputes, (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. 10-11.

13. Daniel Dzurek, "China Occupies Mischief Reef in Latest Spratly Gambit", International Boundary Research Unit Boundary and Security Bulletin, (London), April 1995, pp. 65-71.

14. Gerald Segal, "East Asia and the 'Constrainment of China", International Security (Cambridge), vol. 20, no. 4, (Spring 1996), p. 117.

15. Dzurek n. 13, p. 31.

16. Ibid., p. 28.

17. John W. Graver, "China's Push Through the South China Sea: The Interaction of Bureaucratic and National Interests", China Quarterly 1992 (reprinted in Strategic Digest (IDSA) vol. xxiii no. 6 June 1992, pp. 878.

18. Ibid., p. 882.

19. Swaran Singh, "China's Shadow Over the South China Sea", Strategic Analysis (New Delhi), vol. xvii no. 8, (November 1994).

20. For details see Swaran Singh, "China's Military Modernisation", in Jasjit Singh (ed.), Asian Strategic Review, 1993-94, (New Delhi: Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses, August 1994), pp. 275-305.

21. Zhao Huanxin, "Manila Warned not to Create Trouble in South China Sea", China Daily (Hong Kong), January 28, 2000, p. 1.

22. Jasjit Singh and Swaran Singh, "Trends in Defence Expenditure", in Jasjit Singh (ed.) Asian Strategic Review 1996-97, (New Delhi: Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses, September 1997), pp. 23-88.

23. To ensure that these trends more accurately represent national sentiments amongst these countries and do not fall prey to fluctuating value of East Asian currencies these estimates have been plotted on the basis of statistics in local currencies for these countries.

24. All based on statistics from Military Balance (London: IISS, for various years).

25. "Sino-Thai Co-operation Plan Detailed", China Daily (Hong Kong), February 6 1999; also "China and Philippines to intensify partnership", China Daily (Hong Kong), July 31, 1998.

26. Ren Kan, "Financial Crisis in Asia Challenges China's Export's", China Daily (Hong Kong) February 17, 1998; also "China Further Boosts Ties With ASEAN", FBIS-CHI-98-216, August 4, 1998.

27. Joint Press Statement for Meeting to Explore Establishment of the Consultative Relationship with PRC, Beijing, China, September 13-14, 1993.

28. He Kai, n. 1.

29. Joint Press Release The First ASEAN-China Joint Cooperation Meeting, Beijing, February 26-28, 1997; also "ASEAN Agree to Increase Dialogue, Cooperation", FBIS-Chi-97-039, February 27, 1997.

30. Hong Xia, "Chinese aiming to hit tourist trail abroad,", China Daily (Hong Kong), January 27, 1998.