IS: Off the Page

02-Chinese Coercion in the South China Sea

Episode Summary

Chinese behavior in the South China Sea is carefully balanced between the need to establish resolve and the economic cost of coercion. When does Beijing use military force in its maritime disputes? What other types of non-military coercion does China employ in the South China Sea? How has the United States responded to Chinese maritime policy, and how are American policies viewed by its partners in the region? Listen to find out!

Episode Notes


Ketian Zhang is an Assistant Professor of International Security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Scott Swift is a retired admiral with nearly 40 years of experience in the U.S. Navy. Swift is a former commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and was previously a Robert E Wilhelm Fellow at MIT’s Center for International Security.

Susan Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. Until July 2018, Thornton was Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State. She is currently a Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at the Yale University Paul Tsai China Center and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  

International Security Article:

This episode is based on, Ketian Zhang, “Cautious Bully: Reputation, Resolve, and Beijing’s Use of Coercion in the South China Sea,”Vol. 44, No. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 117-159.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally aired on November 14, 2019