Uncharted waters in a new era : an actor-centered constructivist liberal approach to the East China Sea disputes, 2003 - 2008
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This thesis examines the deep bilateral tensions surrounding the East China Sea (ECS) disagreements between Japan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the period from August 19th 2003 to June 18th 2008 from an actor-centred constructivist liberal viewpoint. The East China Sea disputes could be described as a conflicting difference of opinion over a) the demarcation of maritime territory and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in which potentially significant energy deposits exist and b) the ownership of the strategically important and historically sensitive Pinnacle (Senkaku/Diaoyu) Islands. This research addresses the question of why, given the fact that China and Japan have a strong interest in co-operation and stable relations with each other, small incidents in the ECS blow up into larger problems, cause approaches to the East China Sea to wax and wane, and move the relationship in a direction that goes against preferred national objectives? In attempting to unravel this puzzle, this work argues that domestic politics and popular negative sentiment have been the major issues that have greatly amplified and politicised the ECS problems and have significantly affected positive progress in negotiations aimed at managing and stabilising these disputes. By examining these, the thesis addresses the question of why China and Japan have been so constrained in their attempts to find a workable bilateral agreement over disputed energy resources and demarcation in the East China Sea. It also indirectly deals with the question of why the conflicting legal complexities surrounding these disagreements contributed to both states so fervently maintaining and defending their claims.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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