Foreword – Tensions in the South China Sea Series

Credit: EPA/Stringer

While many of us are still grappling with the COVID-19 and its derivative challenges, I warmly welcome the five articles touching upon a very critical issue that has been overshadowed, for at least the last two years, namely the South China Sea. I sincerely hope that the other readers share the same sense as of mine.

These articles provide meaningful insights from Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippine over the most recent developments related to the South China Sea saga. The South China Sea is predominantly perceived as a legal issue for the very foundation of the nine dashed line claimed by China contradicts with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Each of the note verbales submitted by the member States of UNCLOS to the Secretary General of the United Nations, which contains a comprehensive legal analysis of why China’s nine dashed line claim is inadmissible, reflects the desire of the international community to uphold the constitution of the ocean and maintain the longstanding order in place. Unfortunately, as everyone sees it, the reality has not changed so much despite of multiple formal rejections.

As a result, States in the Southeast Asia particularly must continue their effort and simultaneously develop layers of strategic plan to anticipate various possibilities that may emerge in the nearest future from China’s assertiveness. This series capture this interesting point. It provides us with wide-range perspectives, from the international relation point of view to the defense and strategic one.

A careful reading upon these four writings gives us understanding of how important the South China Sea for Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippine and what is at stake at this period of uncertainty; What are the possible outcomes from the three countries’ outreach expansion to the Japan, United Kingdom, and United States of America; How the government carefully navigates the country in the middle of competing super powers; and What are the internal improvements currently in progress and ought to be made in Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippine respectively. Additionally, the authors include their analysis upon the multilateral cooperation such as the QUAD and the ASEAN that may have a substantive role in relaxing the tension peacefully.

I enjoyed reading these writings and I believe that you will as well.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Licence. Republications minimally require 1) credit authors and their institutions, and 2) credit to STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD  and include a link back to either our home page or the article URL.


  • Andreas Aditya Salim, S.H., LL.M. (Cand.) is a lawyer specializing in ocean affairs. He served as a legal counsel to the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia in her capacity as the Commander of the Presidential Task Force to Combat Illegal Fishing. Andreas is also an alumnus of Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy and a fellow to the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. During his tenure, he advised and participated in policymaking and investigation of crimes in the fisheries sector at the national and international level. In early 2020, Andreas and several prominent Indonesian legal scholars established the Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative, the only one ocean-specialized think-tank in Indonesia. IOJI works closely with the government agencies in matters related to the ocean namely maritime security, human trafficking, protection of Indonesian migrant workers in foreign fishing vessels, and sustainable fisheries.

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