The Limits of Soft Power in the South China Sea

Nov 18, 2015 | 09:15 GMT

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Vietnam Communist Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong raise a toast after witnessing a signing ceremony of a dozen of bilateral agreements following their official talks in Hanoi on Nov. 5.

A year and a half since China began rapidly building and militarizing artificial islands in the contested, resource-rich waters of the South China Sea, the states most threatened by Chinese expansion are looking for ways to push back more forcefully. But a series of upcoming summits and associated conferences in Southeast Asia will illustrate two key dynamics still playing to China's favor: the widespread reliance on Chinese investment by states in the region and the divides inherent to Southeast Asia that will continue to prevent multilateral regional alliances from unifying against China....

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