China’s Most Dangerous Game: Solving the Policy Puzzle of the South China Sea” is the latest article by Kerry Lynn Nankivell  for the Asia-Pacific Defense Forum.

According to Nankivell, “The strategic seascape in the South China Sea presents an unusual policy puzzle for stakeholder governments for at least two reasons. First, the disputes are extremely complex. Consider the math: seven littoral claimants (including Taiwan) with concave coastlines; more than 180 named islands, rocks, reefs and shoals; and a thousand years of regional history from multiple countries’ perspectives. Second, governments struggle to identify policy responses to Chinese provocation because the delicate status quo is predicated on four central paradoxes. A paradox is a situation that is made up of two opposites, and therefore seems self-contradictory. The South China Sea disputes fit this definition in several respects — economic, political, military and legal — that are described in more detail later in the article.”

The full article is available online at:

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.