Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

James Butterfield

Second Advisor

Yuan-Kang Wang

Third Advisor

Emily Hauptmann


This paper will outline the internal and external factors that have spurred the People's Republic of China (PRC) to issue strong rhetoric and naval expansion in the defense of their claims to territory in the South China Sea (SCS). An analysis of the PRC's posturing will provide the contextual background necessary for answering the following research question central to this paper. What strategies have relatively less capable states engaged in the region as a reaction to the advancing capacity of the PRC? The escalation of tensions between the PRC and other states in the region, namely , the Republic of Singapore , the Republic of the Philippines, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, will be analyzed with applicable theoretical framework. Each of these states will be treated in separate case studies to address the inquiry. After the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s subsided, the relative economic power of the PRC was noted. Through great efforts of diplomacy, the PRC was seen as a good neighbor for nearly a decade. However, after the global financial crisis that began in 2008, the PRC leadership felt inclined to flex its military and diplomatic strength. Since then, the Southeast Asian states have become weary of the complications of PRC dominance in the region. Without outside actors, PRC dominance is inevitable due to the relatively weaker position, in terms of economic development as well as military capacity, of the Southeast Asian states. Despite what seemed to be a harmonious rise, the PRC is now facing a generous level of engagement coupled with significant internal and external balancing moving forward.


Powerpoint accompanying.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

The Reaction of Small States to the Advancements.pptx (1052 kB)
Powerpoint Presentation