Past Event

On Dangerous Ground: America’s Century In The South China Sea

November 2, 2022
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
Weatherhead East Asian Institute (located at the School of International and Public Affairs) 420 West 118th Street Room 918 New York, NY 10027
  • To register to attend this event in-person, please register HERE. *CU ID holders only
  • To register to attend this event online, please register HERE.


Speaker: Gregory Poling, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic & International Studies

Moderator: Ann Marie Murphy, Adjunct Senior Research Scholar; Professor, School of Diplomacy &International Relations, Seton Hall University

Discussant: Andrew Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Columbia University

A robust yet accessible history of US involvement in the world's most dangerous waterway, and a guide for what to do about it.

Lamentations that the United States is "losing" the South China Sea to China are now common. China has rapidly militarized islands and reefs, projects power across the disputed waterway, and freely harasses US allies and partners. The US has been unable to halt these processes or convince Beijing to respect the rights of smaller neighbors. But what exactly would "losing" mean?

In On Dangerous GroundGregory B. Poling evaluates US interests in the world's most complex and dangerous maritime disputes by examining more than a century of American involvement in the South China Sea. He focuses on how the disputes there intersected and eventually intertwined with the longstanding US commitment to freedom of the seas and its evolving alliance network in Asia. He shows that these abiding national interests—defense of maritime rights and commitment to allies, particularly the Philippines—have repeatedly pulled US attention to the South China Sea. Understanding how and why is critical if the US and its allies hope to chart a course through the increasingly fraught disputes, while facing a more assertive, more capable, and far less compromising China.

With an emphasis on decisions made not just in Washington and Beijing, but also in Manila and other Southeast Asian capitals, On Dangerous Ground seeks to correct the record and balance the China-centric narrative that has come to dominate the issue. It not only provides the most comprehensive account yet of America's history in the South China Sea, but it also demonstrates how that history should inform US national security policy in one of the most important waterways in the world.

This event is sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the China and the World Program


Photo Credit:

Gregory Poling, Dir of Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS
Gregory Poling, Dir of Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS