China’s Assertive Foreign Policy in South China Sea Under Xi Jinping: Its Impact on United States and Australian Foreign Policy


  • Lidya Christin Sinaga Center for Political Studies-Indonesian Institute of Sciences/ Flinders University Australia



South China Sea, foreign policy, China, United States, Australia


This essay examines the impact of the assertiveness of China’s Foreign Policy in the South China Sea under Xi Jinping on United States and Australian foreign policy. The essay focuses on the  Xi Jinping period from 2013 because Xi has a different approach in foreign policy making from that of his predecessors. His determination to defend and advance maritime claims and interests as well as the external developments, have made his foreign policy  more assertive. This essay will argue that China’s assertive foreign policy in South China Sea under Xi Jinping has paved the way for a greater role for the US in Southeast Asia, and deepened the rivalry between China and the US. This rising tension in turn has put Australia in a challenging situation, torn between its security alliance with the United States, and its economic interests in  China. However, Australia does not have to choose one, but Australia can play a constructive role in the development of some compromise between the two.

Plum Analytics


‘Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America on Enhanced Defense Cooperation’, retrieved 25 May 2015, <>.

Anh, N T L, ‘New ten-dashed line map revealed China’s ambition’, 19 July 2014, retrieved 3o May 2015, .

ASEAN Secretariat, ‘Overview of Australia-ASEAN Relations’, retrieved 22 May 2015, <>.

Cameron F, ‘China’s Foreign Policy under the New Leadership-More Continuity than Change’, retrieved 10 May 2015, <>.

Council on Foreign relations, ‘China’s Maritime Disputes’, retrieved 20 May 2015, <!/>.

Department of Defence, Defence White Paper 2013, retrieved 22 May 2015, <>.

Dupont, A, ‘Living with the Dragon: Why Australia needs a China Strategy’, Lowy, Sydney, 2011, retrieved 25 May 2015, <>.

Edwards, P, ‘Permanent Friends? Historical Reflections on the Australian-American Alliance’, Lowy Institute Paper, No. 8, 2005, pp. 16-17.

Emmers, R, ‘The US Rebalancing Strategy: Impact on the South China Sea’, National Security College, retrieved 21 May 2015, <>.

Fonbuena, C, ‘Old letter of US envoy details US pledge to defend West PH Sea’, 14 May 2014, retrieved 21 May 2015, <>.

Fonbuena, C, ‘Obama: U.S. commitment to PH 'ironclad'’, 29 April 2014, retrieved 21 May 2015, <>.

Fravel, M T, ‘US Policy Towards the Disputes in the South China Sea Since 1995’, Policy Report, March 2014.

Glaser, B S, ‘Armed Clashes in the South China Sea’, New York, Council on Foreign Relations, 2012, p. 4, <>.

Griffiths M & M Wesley, ‘Taking Asia Seriously’, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 45, No. 1, March 2010.

Griffiths, M, ‘US-China Relations: Should Australia Be Worried?’, Professionals’ Lecture Series, Flinders University, 26 May, 2015.

Heydarian, R J, ‘South China Sea legal battle hots up’, Straits Times, 18 December 2014, retrieved 25 May 2015, <>.

Huang C, ‘Xi’s Chinese Dream’, in Sharp J, The China Renaissance The Rise of Xi Jinping and the 18th Communist Party Congress, World Scientific Publishing, Singapore, 2013.

Huang, C, ‘Change Agent or Steady as She Goes?’, in Sharp, J, The China Rennaissance The Rise of Xi Jinping and the 18th Communist Party Congress, World Scientific Publishing, Singapore, 2013.

Jinming, L & L Dexia, ‘The Dotted Line on the Chinese Map of the South Cina Sea: A Note’, Ocean Development and International Law, No. 34, 2003.

Kai, H & F Huiyun, ‘Xi Jinping’s Operationtheal Code Beliefs and China’s Foreign Policy’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 6, 2013, pp. 209-231.

Kelton, M, ‘More than an Ally?’ Contemporary Australia-US Relations, Ashgate, USA, 2008.

Kuhn R L, ‘Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream’, New York Times, 4 June 2013, retrieved 10 May 2015, <>.

Lee, John, ‘Australia’s 2015 Defence White Paper: Seeking Strategic Opportunities in Southeast Asia to Help Manage China’s Peaceful Rise’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2013, pp. 395-422.

Lee, V R, ‘South China Sea: China Is Building on the Paracels As Well’, The Diplomat, 14 April 2015, retrieved 21 May 2015, <>.

Manyin, ME, Garcia, MJ, Morrison WM, ‘U.S. Accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC)’, CRS Report for Congress, 5 May 2009, retrieved 21 May 2015, <>.

Medcalf R, ‘Xi Jinping Speech: More Diplomacy, Less Raw Power’, 1 December 2014, retrieved 19 May 2015, <>.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, ‘The Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs’, Beijing, 29 November 2014, retrieved 9 May 2015, <>.

Panda A, ‘One Year of ADIZ: What Next for China?’, The Diplomat, 27 November 2014, retrieved 20 May 2015, <>.

Perlez, J, ‘Asia’s ‘Big Guy’ Spreads Cash and Seeks Influence in Pacific Region’, 22 November 2014, retrieved 21 May 2015, <>.

Sales, Leigh, ‘Australia declines invitation to US forum on China’, 28 June 2005, retrieved 22 May 2015, <>.

Shi, T & D Tweed, ‘Xi Jinping Outlines ‘Big Country Diplomacy for China’’, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 December 2014, retrieved 19 May 2015, <>.

Shicun, W, Solving Disputes for Regional Cooperation and Development in South Cina Sea A Chinese Perspective, Chandos Publishing, UK, 2013.

‘The Power of Xi Jinping’, The Economist, retrieved 10 May 2015, <>.

Tiezzi, S, ‘Why Is China Building Islands in the South China Sea?’, The Diplomat, 10 September 2014, retrieved 20 May 2015, <>.

Tubilewicz, C, ‘The 2009 Defence White Paper and the Rudd Governmet’s Response to China’s Rise’, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 45, No. 1, March 2010, pp. 149-157.

United Nations, ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’, retrieved 20 May 2015, <>.

US Department of State, ‘U.S. Department Of State Daily Press Briefing’, 10 May 1995, retrieved 10 May 2015, <>.

White, H, ‘Powershift: Rethinking Australia’s Place in the Asian Century’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 65, No. 1, 2011, pp. 81-93.

Wingfield-Hayes, R, ‘China’s Island Factory’, 9 September 2014, retrieved 20 May 2015, <>.

Yale Law School, ‘Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines’, 30 August 1951, retrieved 10 May 2015, <>.

Zhang, J, ‘China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea A Strategic Shift?’, National Security College, retrieved 20 May 2015, <>.



Abstract 2492  .
PDF downloaded 1206  .