Rommel Banlaoi
Department of International Studies, Miriam College

Volume 15 (2021): 7-30 | Download PDF


Established theories of international relations acknowledge that conflict is the perennial feature of international politics. Despite this inconvenient reality, states, however, can still cooperate in order to advance their respective national interests and ameliorate their security dilemmas through various confidence-building measures, preventive diplomacy, and even the development of common approaches towards conflict resolution that can help promote shared or common interests.

The South China Sea (SCS) is one of the major flashpoints of conflicts not only in Asia but also in the entire world. Nonetheless, there have been various cooperative activities to manage existing disputes and prevent their escalation in the SCS. Multilaterally, the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties, and the Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are exemplary efforts promoting cooperation amidst ongoing conflict, as are The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU, 2005) of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and The Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) in the SCS between the Philippines and China.

This paper describes China-ASEAN experiences in promoting cooperation in the SCS through the DOC and COC. It also discusses briefly the experience of China, the Philippines and Vietnam in promoting cooperation in the SCS through the JMSU. Finally, this paper describes some lessons learned from the BCM with the hope of furthering sustained cooperation among claimant, littoral, and user states in the SCS.


International Relations theories, conflict, cooperation, South China Sea, China, the Philippines