China's Conflict with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea may become a test case for China's commitment to its declared policy of "peaceful rise" or "peaceful development" Since 2008 tensions in the South China Sea have risen to the point where armed conflict between China and Vietnam and/or the Philippines is a possibility. Such a conflict would draw in the United States which has a mutual security treaty with the Philippines and which has declared that the security of the South China Sea is a national interest. The conflict has put China’s “good neighbor” policy in danger, and has a potential for derailing China’s “peaceful development”. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been placed in a difficult situation of trying to manage the potential conflict while stearing clear of direct great power involvement.

Professor Carlyle A. Thayer (Australian Defence Force Academy), a world renowned expert on the South China Sea, Vietnam and Sino-Vietnamese relations, will explain the various dimensions of the 2008-11 crisis in the South China Sea, the considerable risks involved, and ASEAN’s efforts at conflict prevention.

Dr Øystein Tunsjø (Institute of Defence Studies, Oslo), who specializes in Chinese energy security, East Asian security and Sino-US-EU relations, will serve as discussant.

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