• power-politics;
  • South China Sea Dispute;
  • East Asian security;
  • territorial dispute

This paper examines the regional security implications of China's realpolitik approach in its territorial claim over the South China Sea. It observes that China uses the following power-politics tactics: (i) citing a historic claim; (ii) applying a bilateral approach to weaken ASEAN; (iii) relying on a divide-and-rule stratagem in dealing individually with ASEAN member states and creating a wedge between ASEAN and the USA; and (iv) buttressing its naval capabilities to resolve the territorial dispute according to its own terms. This consequently has driven the small claimant states, like Vietnam and the Philippines, to adopt a balancing strategy that involves the USA in the issue. In conclusion, the paper argues that with China's realpolitik approach, the idea that Europe's (violent) past is becoming East Asia's future is turning into reality.