Stratbase ADR Institute’s Second Quarter SPARK: “China’s Strategic Opportunism: South China Sea Disputes in the Time of Corona”

We are pleased to share with you free access to Stratbase ADR Institute’s Second Quarter SPARK entitled, “China’s Strategic Opportunism: South China Sea Disputes in the Time of Corona”, written by Richard Javad Heydarian, a Non-Resident Fellow of Stratbase ADR Institute.

The paper unpacks China’s peaceful rise at the onset and duration of the COVID-19 outbreak from its face mask diplomacy and towards its South China Sea agenda. It further discusses the increasing need of individual nations to protect strategic sectors in order to prevent China from shaping the post-pandemic order.

Rather than ushering in an era of sincere cooperation and strategic benevolence, the world has instead witnessed China’s brazen remorselessness and, even worse, unabashed opportunism in the adjacent waters. As soon as Beijing contained the crisis at home, it ruthlessly exploited distracted neighbors and rivals, who were now desperately scram- bling for humanitarian assistance amid massive outbreaks at home. With the pandemic hammering economies, many regional governments will look to China for economic relief as the region slides into coronavirus-driven recession. China may soon move from Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects to all-out ‘bargain hunting’ among besieged neighbors, who are desperate to shore up their covers and may, accordingly, consider opening up strategic state assets. The author underscored the need for greater cooperation among like-minded regional players to preserve and protect a rules-based international order.

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