Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Walter Hatch


Over the last two decades, the South China Sea has become an international flashpoint and site of frequent Chinese aggression. Chinese naval, coast guard, and militia vessels frequently sail the natural-resource rich waters, and China has undertaken a massive campaign of island building to support its claims. The motivations behind China's aggression and their choice of strategy, however, remain ambiguous and the topic of major academic discussion. This Honors Thesis provides a new hypothesis, strategic nationalism, which is capable of explaining China's recent actions in the South China Sea.


South China Sea, Law of the Sea, Chinese Navy, International Relations, Southeast Asia