The Modern Origins of China's South China Sea Claim
Hayton will argue that the current tensions in the South China Sea can be traced back to the muddled origins of China’s claims in the early twentieth century. He will show evidence that China’s claim to islands in the South China Sea emerged in 1909 and was further developed after 1933. He will explain how Chinese academics and officials came to draw the “U-shaped line” by copying Western maps—and in the process incorporated mistakes and misunderstandings with consequences that still trouble the region decades later.
Bill Hayton is an associate fellow of Chatham House and a journalist with the BBC. He is the author of The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia, named one of The Economist’s Books of the Year in 2014. His previous book Vietnam: Rising Dragon describes the diplomatic, social, political, and economic issues facing modern Vietnam. Hayton has presented widely on the South China Sea and other Southeast Asian issues in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.