Maritime Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress [January 30, 2013] [open pdf - 906KB]
"Tensions surrounding numerous maritime territorial disputes in East Asia have become a pressing challenge for U.S. foreign policymakers. Beginning around 2005-2006, long-disputed waters in the South China Sea and, more recently, the East China Sea have become the site of increasingly aggressive behavior from nations trying to strengthen claims to disputed areas or to explore and develop offshore energy and fishery resources. Rising tensions in these waters raise a number of important issues for the 113th Congress. The tensions have been fed by a series of aggressive actions by maritime authorities, including harassing vessels, destroying equipment, and blockading islets and shoals. The increasing frequency of such events raises the possibility of miscalculations that could lead to overt conflict at sea. It also poses complex questions about security and U.S. diplomacy in the region, and represents one of the most complicated challenges for the Obama Administration's strategy of 'rebalancing' foreign policy priorities towards the Asia-Pacific. The territorial disputes at the heart of these tensions are decades old, and incidents between the parties to the disputes have been ongoing for many years."
CRS Report for Congress, R42930