Securitizing the South China Sea: ASEAN’s Response to Traditional and Nontraditional Maritime Security Conflicts

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The central themes that this chapter seeks to put forward revolve around what may be additional narratives that recast ASEAN’s response to the concerns of the SCS, beyond the maritime dispute. The first of these focuses on the argument that the sovereignty issues of the SCS dispute are underlined by relatively less sensitive and functional maritime security issues. These are highlighted by a broadened definition of securitization, which looks beyond the transformation of non security concerns to national security issues, through emergency measures. Instead, securitization may be seen from a practice-based perspective. At the core is the process of evolving an ASEAN maritime security community, particularly the ASEAN members-states’ non-traditional and non-controversial practices of maritime safety, marine environmental protection, etc. which may be de-coupled from traditional maritime security such as boundary issues and maritime claims. When undertaken, these have had a de-conflicting impact on ASEAN’s tenuous relations with China.