Territorial disputes in Asia remain a serious challenge to peace, stability, and prosperity of the region. In fact, of all interstate disputes, those over territory tend to be nearly twice as likely as other issues to lead to armed conflict. A mix of political and economic interests, normative reasons, and competition over scarce natural resources has been suggested as drivers of conflict over disputed territories. In Asia today, geopolitical shifts, natural resources, and environmental degradation are a source of concern. The East and South China Seas are particular flashpoints that could lead to devastating confrontations for the region and beyond. At the same time, the continuing trend toward integration in the region, the growing relevance of regional institutions and arrangements, and the processes of democratization are reasons to be optimistic about peaceful settlements of territorial disputes in Asia.
Francesco Mancini is currently Senior Director of Research of the International Peace Institute (IPI) and Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Read the ISPI Studies - Territorial disputes in Asia. Many players, many tensions, and no solutions