Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2014

The Paracel Islands and U.S. Interests and Approaches in the South China Sea

June 2014

The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College


The Paracel Islands and South China Sea disputes require better understanding by U.S. policymakers in order to address the region’s challenges. To attain that needed understanding, legal aspects of customary and modern laws are explored in this monograph to analyze the differences between competing maritime and territorial claims, and why and how China and Vietnam stake rival claims or maritime legal rights. Throughout, U.S. policies are examined through U.S. conflicted interests in the region. Recommendations for how the United States should engage these issues, a more appropriate task than trying to solve the disputes outright, are then offered.