The South China Sea in High Resolution

An innovative policy tool exploring all aspects of the South China Sea dispute.

The South China Sea is of vital importance for the Asia-Pacific, a fact further emphasized by the United States' foreign policy rebalance towards Asia. Bringing clarity to this complex region, The South China Sea in High Resolution uses geospatial data to examine the geopolitical, economic, and legal issues arising from territorial and maritime disputes in the sea.

The South China Sea in High Resolution employs a comprehensive geographic information system (GIS) database to build presentations tailored to individual audiences and their interests in the South China Sea, be they territorial and maritime disputes, hydrocarbons, fisheries, clashes between countries, trade, etc.

The latest product developed using this database is our report, The South China Sea in Focus: Clarifying the Limits of Maritime Dispute. The GIS files created during that project are being made available for others to analyze, critique, and use in their own work. To download the layers as a Google Earth .kmz file, click here.

Those same data layers are also used to analyze new developments in the region via an ongoing blog series, The South China Sea Frame-by-Frame. Each posting incorporates GIS imagery along with traditional analsysis to help readers better visualize the real issues. So far, they are:

For more information, including inquiries to arrange a presenation for your audience, please contact Elke Larse at 202.775.3269 or

The GIS database behind The South China Sea in High Resolution was built with the invaluable assistance of DigitalGlobe.

The public launch of The South China Sea in High Resolution was held Thursday, March 15, 2012 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Senior Adviser and CSIS Chair for Southeast Asia Studies Ernest Bower gave the presentation, followed by an expert panel featuring:

  • Lieutenant General Wallace "Chip" Gregson
    U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
  • Admiral Timothy J. Keating
    Former PACOM Commander, U.S. Department of the Navy (Retired)
  • The Hon. J. Stapleton Roy
    Former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, China, and Indonesia

Photos of The South China Sea in High Resolution Launch