Cooperation and Confrontation in the East China Sea Dispute: Lessons for China-Japan Relations

Author: James Manicom

Manicom, James, 2009 Cooperation and Confrontation in the East China Sea Dispute: Lessons for China-Japan Relations, Flinders University, School of International Studies

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A gap exists in our understanding of the East China Sea territorial dispute. This dispute is concerned with the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and the contested jurisdiction over related maritime areas granted under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. Scholarship on the dispute can be divided into two camps. On the one hand are scholars who analyse the impact of material and ideational interests on escalation dynamics and dispute management. On the other side are those who have outlined several innovative delimitation solutions to the dispute, despite the lack of political will in China and Japan to pursue them. Absent from this debate is an understanding of the process by which Chinese and Japanese leaders pursue cooperative policy choices over confrontational ones. By exploring the cooperative and confrontational dynamics of the East China Sea dispute, this thesis aims to identify the conditions under which the political will to pursue settlement may emerge. This research aim is accomplished by a comparison between two cases of cooperation - over fisheries and marine scientific research - with two cases of confrontation, both over the Chunxiao gas field. Viewed through Harvey Starr's opportunity and willingness framework, the aim is to identify the conditions under which China and Japan may develop the political will to settle the East China Sea dispute. In light of the nascent joint development agreement reached in June 2008, and the importance of joint development as a first step towards the settlement options proposed by Ji Guoxing, Mark Valencia, and others, this thesis is particularly timely and provides a substantial contribution to the existing scholarly literature in the issue area.

Keywords: China,Japan,territorial dispute,maritime security,East China Sea,Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

Subject: Politics thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2009
School: School of International Studies
Supervisor: Andrew O'Neil