One Thing Leads to Another: Making Sense of East Asia’s Repeated Tensions

Todd Hall has co-written an article with Ja Ian Chang exploring the pattern of geopolitical tensions in East Asia.


Over the past decades, there have been a series of unresolved, iterated episodes of tension between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other states in East Asia. These include the Japanese detainment of a Chinese fisherman in 2010, the standoff between ships from the PRC and Philippines at Scarborough Shoal in 2012, and the 2015 clash between the PRC and Vietnam over the PRC placement of an oilrig near the Paracel Islands. A series of unilateral actions in the region have also generated tensions, including the Japanese nationalization of several of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in 2012, the PRC establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea in 2013, and reclamation efforts in the South China Sea (SCS), most notably by the PRC. Why do these tensions seem so intractable? What effect does each episode of heightened tension have on subsequent stand offs?

Prof. Todd H. Hall is Associate Professor of International Relations, Tutorial Fellow in Politics for St Anne's College