Trouble in the South China Sea

In today’s podcast, we discuss the South China Sea with Greg Poling of CSIS. At the end of March, more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels were spotted anchored off of Whitsun Reef, a contested land feature in the South China Sea. These were no normal fishing vessels however, they were part of China’s maritime militia, a paramilitary fleet used to establish China’s control over hotly contested waters with an air of deniability. The amassing of the vessels around the reef has set off warning bells in the Philippines, Vietnam, and the United States alike, as similar incidents in the past have led to China’s defacto control over strategically important features in the sea. In today’s podcast, we discuss the complex maritime and territorial disputes of the South China Sea, the sea’s importance to regional and global powers, and what may come of the current standoff at Whitsun. 

Gregory B. Poling is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at CSIS. He oversees research on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific, with a particular focus on the maritime domain and the countries of Southeast Asia. His research interests include the South China Sea disputes, democratization in Southeast Asia, and Asian multilateralism. Mr. Poling’s writings have been featured in Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street JournalNikkei Asian Review, and Foreign Policy, among others. He is the author or coauthor of multiple works, including The Thickening Web of Asian Security Cooperation: Deepening Defense Ties Among U.S. Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific (RAND Corporation, 2019), Building a More Robust U.S.-Philippines Alliance (CSIS, August 2015), and A New Era in U.S.-Vietnam Relations: Deepening Ties Two Decades after Normalization (CSIS, June 2014).


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