The territorial conflict in the South China Sea has become one of Asia’s most vulnerable flashpoints and a mystery for those seeking a solution. Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, in this March issue, proudly presents the case of the South China Sea. We are delighted to have five excellent papers from experts in the field, covering a number of countries involving in the conflict, namely, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Moreover, we have two more papers, which examine the case from a broader perspective: one from a former official at the ASEAN Secretariat and the other reflecting a European viewpoint on the case.
In retrospect, both ASEAN and China attempted to deal with the South China Sea dispute through the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which called for “dialogue, confidence building and cooperative measures”. One of the key components of the declaration was the clause stipulating that countries should refrain from taking action “that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including . . . refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features”. However, the DOC proved extremely difficult to implement. The Five papers presented here, in many ways, are seeking to offer some recommendations for the issues at hand. The editorial team hopes that readers who are interested in this issue would gain new insights as they look deeper into the South China Sea issue.
Also, in the review section of Issue 15, we have four book reviews as well as a photo essay looking at the issue of asylum seekers housed in detention centres in Indonesia and offers a glimpse into the lives of the detainees. Finally, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia is happy to welcome Eve Warburton, a young scholar from the Australian National University who writes about the thorny issue of resource nationalism in Indonesia. Look out for our regular monthly articles featuring other young academics.
Editor, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia