Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Global and International Studies

First Advisor

Thomas Kostrzewa

Second Advisor

Karl Hokenmaier


East Asia has been growing in importance for the United States. Not only because there is a lot of resources in the region, but because of the rapid growth of China and other states. Over the past hundred years tensions have been growing higher and higher. This paper covers the tension that is currently there. Before the tension can be explained, the states involved must be described as to better understand why these states are involved in this tension. The states that will be discussed are: China, Taiwan, and Japan. These states are the most active in the region, and are causing the majority of the tension in the South China Sea. To help illustrate the tension that is occurring in the South China Sea, real world examples will be used. They range from spying, to territorial disputes. These events make the tension easier to understand. To keep this tension from boiling over the United States must do something to relieve the tension. The United States could do the following: solve territorial disputes, strengthen communication between states, create a group similar to ASEAN that has all the states that are involved in these disputes, and finally they could strengthen Japan’s military to counteract the military strength of China. These actions could relieve the tension in this area while keeping a focus on the area by the United States. If tensions are not relieved there are many things that could happen. Three scenarios are discussed in the paper: the first scenario is that the tension could just dissipate on its own without any major incidents, secondly, China could shut down critical trade routes to Taiwan and Japan that could force them to bend to China’s will, and the last scenario is all out war between the states. Overall, this paper covers the important areas of this tension that occurs in the South China Sea, while keeping in mind that this area is vital for United States Interests.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access