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China’s Policy in the East China Sea

The Role of Crisis Management Mechanism Negotiations with Japan (2008-2015)
Mathieu Duchâtel
p. 13-21


This paper looks back at China’s policy towards the establishment of a crisis management mechanism with Japan in the East China Sea from the beginning of the negotiations in 2008 to the deadlock reached at the end of 2015. During this period of seven years, China moved from being a reluctant negotiator to interrupting the negotiations and finally accepting their resumption, but only after setting such a high bar in terms of relative sovereignty gains that the talks unravelled. The paper argues that the socialisation of China to confidence-building norms in the security sphere – norms that the strategic community of the PRC traditionally rejects – is making very slow progress despite the rising risk of incidents in maritime East Asia. It concludes that Chinese foreign policy uses crisis management negotiations to secure a variety of foreign policy goals linked to sovereignty and balance of power rather than a tool purely dedicated to building security and stability by freezing an existing status quo.

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Bibliographical reference

Mathieu Duchâtel, « China’s Policy in the East China Sea », China Perspectives, 2016/3 | 2016, 13-21.

Electronic reference

Mathieu Duchâtel, « China’s Policy in the East China Sea », China Perspectives [Online], 2016/3 | 2016, Online since 01 September 2016, connection on 28 May 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Mathieu Duchâtel

Mathieu Duchâtel is deputy director and senior fellow, Asia and China programme, at the European Council on Foreign Relations.European Council on Foreign Relations, 13 rue Paul Lelong, 75002 Paris, France (

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