Mark J. Valencia

Mark J. Valencia

Dr Mark J. Valencia is an internationally known maritime policy analyst, political commentator and consultant focused on Asia. He is the author or editor of some 15 books and more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. Currently he is adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

Latest from Mark J. Valencia

Opinion | East China Sea: how China and Japan can begin to resolve the Diaoyu Islands dispute

Japan should acknowledge there is a legitimate sovereignty dispute, and that the features cannot be used to justify exclusive economic zone or continental shelf claims. In exchange, China could tacitly accept Japan’s temporary administration of the features.

16 Feb 2021 - 10:28AM

Japan should acknowledge there is a legitimate sovereignty dispute, and that the features cannot be used to justify exclusive economic zone or continental shelf claims. In exchange, China could tacitly accept Japan’s temporary administration of the features.

East China Sea: how China and Japan can begin to resolve the Diaoyu Islands dispute
Opinion | Biden must rethink US approach to the South China Sea. Early signs are not promising

The Biden administration has a chance to forge stability in the South China Sea and undo the damage of Trump’s ‘America first’ policy. But, so far, there has been no indication of a softening of the US approach to China.

18 Feb 2021 - 11:16AM

The Biden administration has a chance to forge stability in the South China Sea and undo the damage of Trump’s ‘America first’ policy. But, so far, there has been no indication of a softening of the US approach to China.

Biden must rethink US approach to the South China Sea. Early signs are not promising
Opinion | US and its allies must be wary of provoking South China Sea conflict over freedom of navigation

For China, the disputed waters are a historically vulnerable underbelly that must be turned into a natural shield for national security. Beijing feels cornered, and the presence of allies’ navies in US-led operations will only exacerbate the feeling.

1 Jan 2021 - 4:50AM

For China, the disputed waters are a historically vulnerable underbelly that must be turned into a natural shield for national security. Beijing feels cornered, and the presence of allies’ navies in US-led operations will only exacerbate the feeling.

US and its allies must be wary of provoking South China Sea conflict over freedom of navigation
Opinion | US-China relations: Southeast Asia cannot afford another neocolonial great power rivalry

A new great power contest would be a disaster for Southeast Asian states which struggle to maintain autonomy and prefer to selectively follow the wishes of bigger powers.

18 Dec 2020 - 9:11AM

A new great power contest would be a disaster for Southeast Asian states which struggle to maintain autonomy and prefer to selectively follow the wishes of bigger powers.

US-China relations: Southeast Asia cannot afford another neocolonial great power rivalry
Opinion | Why Trump’s Pentagon reshuffle is unlikely to raise the China war risk

US military chiefs have played down any risk of radical action with China and many think the reshuffle is to fulfil Trump’s vow to bring troops in Afghanistan home. China is also unlikely to rise to provocations.

23 Nov 2020 - 1:17AM

US military chiefs have played down any risk of radical action with China and many think the reshuffle is to fulfil Trump’s vow to bring troops in Afghanistan home. China is also unlikely to rise to provocations.

Why Trump’s Pentagon reshuffle is unlikely to raise the China war risk
Opinion | Pompeo’s failure to turn Asia against China should be a wake-up call for US policy hawks

Asian nations prize their independence and do not want to take sides in a great power competition not of their making. They, too, take issue with some aspects of US behaviour, and sense that Washington may not have their interests and needs at heart.

4 Nov 2020 - 9:38AM

Asian nations prize their independence and do not want to take sides in a great power competition not of their making. They, too, take issue with some aspects of US behaviour, and sense that Washington may not have their interests and needs at heart.

Pompeo’s failure to turn Asia against China should be a wake-up call for US policy hawks
Opinion | The US is testing China’s red lines in the South China Sea. What does it hope to achieve?

The US seems to be pushing China to stand down from its claims and occupations or defend them militarily. This ‘put up or shut up’ strategy is risky – unless confrontation really is the aim.

24 Oct 2020 - 2:47AM

The US seems to be pushing China to stand down from its claims and occupations or defend them militarily. This ‘put up or shut up’ strategy is risky – unless confrontation really is the aim.

The US is testing China’s red lines in the South China Sea. What does it hope to achieve?
Opinion | South China Sea: If US spy planes were posing as airliners, it must explain why

Using a false civilian cover for spy planes may not be illegal but is dangerous and risks a major international incident. On this and undersea drones, the US owes the world more than studied silence.

2 Oct 2020 - 5:32AM

Using a false civilian cover for spy planes may not be illegal but is dangerous and risks a major international incident. On this and undersea drones, the US owes the world more than studied silence.

South China Sea: If US spy planes were posing as airliners, it must explain why
Opinion | Can Asean dance its way out of having to take sides in the US-China conflict?

As US-China tensions mount, Southeast Asian countries will need some fancy footwork to preserve Asean’s unity and centrality in deciding regional issues.

12 Nov 2020 - 6:39PM

As US-China tensions mount, Southeast Asian countries will need some fancy footwork to preserve Asean’s unity and centrality in deciding regional issues.

Can Asean dance its way out of having to take sides in the US-China conflict?
Opinion | South China Sea: how the US can head off an ugly showdown with China

Amid heightened US-China tensions, the best scenario involves negotiations and power sharing. In the worst case, a clash leaves the region a cold-war zone, drives away energy firms, and possibly splits Asean. Unless the US is ready for war, it must learn to accommodate China

31 Aug 2020 - 6:23AM

Amid heightened US-China tensions, the best scenario involves negotiations and power sharing. In the worst case, a clash leaves the region a cold-war zone, drives away energy firms, and possibly splits Asean. Unless the US is ready for war, it must learn to accommodate China

South China Sea: how the US can head off an ugly showdown with China
Opinion | Why the US’ tough South China Sea rhetoric is not very smart

It was never realistic to think Southeast Asian claimants would hop on the China-bashing bandwagon. With a more aggressive military presence, the US could force nations to choose between it and China, but Washington might not like the outcome.

16 Aug 2020 - 9:18AM

It was never realistic to think Southeast Asian claimants would hop on the China-bashing bandwagon. With a more aggressive military presence, the US could force nations to choose between it and China, but Washington might not like the outcome.

Why the US’ tough South China Sea rhetoric is not very smart
Opinion | The US dream of South China Sea hegemony will only lead to conflict with Beijing

The US has diverted the narrative from the real issues and hyped China’s installations in the area as a symbol of its aggression against rival claimants. The situation will only get worse before it gets better, and the US will eventually have to share power with China.

29 Jun 2020 - 3:19AM

The US has diverted the narrative from the real issues and hyped China’s installations in the area as a symbol of its aggression against rival claimants. The situation will only get worse before it gets better, and the US will eventually have to share power with China.

The US dream of South China Sea hegemony will only lead to conflict with Beijing
Opinion | Why is the US escalating its presence in the South China Sea amid the coronavirus pandemic?

US sorties and freedom of navigation operations have risen substantially in the first quarter. The reasons range from an overall deterioration in US-China relations to the US’ need to show allies that its capabilities have not weakened despite the pandemic.

17 May 2020 - 10:25AM

US sorties and freedom of navigation operations have risen substantially in the first quarter. The reasons range from an overall deterioration in US-China relations to the US’ need to show allies that its capabilities have not weakened despite the pandemic.

Why is the US escalating its presence in the South China Sea amid the coronavirus pandemic?
Opinion | As the world focuses on Covid-19, is China exploiting the distraction in the South China Sea? Only if you believe US propaganda

China has not stopped its activities in its claimed areas of the South China Sea but neither have other claimants – and nor has the US, which continues its provocative freedom of navigation operations. Singling out China merely promotes US propaganda.

28 Apr 2020 - 9:33AM

China has not stopped its activities in its claimed areas of the South China Sea but neither have other claimants – and nor has the US, which continues its provocative freedom of navigation operations. Singling out China merely promotes US propaganda.

As the world focuses on Covid-19, is China exploiting the distraction in the South China Sea? Only if you believe US propaganda
Opinion | Demonising China does nothing to untangle the contesting claims on South China Sea’s fish-rich waters

Rampant illegal fishing – by flagged vessels from many nations, not just China – has made the problem more complex. Data on arrests over illegal fishing show China is far from being the worst aggressor, and painting it as such only further muddies the water.

12 Apr 2020 - 11:45AM

Rampant illegal fishing – by flagged vessels from many nations, not just China – has made the problem more complex. Data on arrests over illegal fishing show China is far from being the worst aggressor, and painting it as such only further muddies the water.

Demonising China does nothing to untangle the contesting claims on South China Sea’s fish-rich waters
Opinion | Why the US-Vietnam strategic alliance in the South China Sea is unlikely to last

The US and Vietnam are strange bedfellows, with no common culture, ideology, political system or world view, united for now by the ‘China threat’. But with US freedom of navigation operations challenging Vietnam’s claims along with China’s, and no deep trust, how long can the alliance last?

15 Mar 2020 - 9:18AM

The US and Vietnam are strange bedfellows, with no common culture, ideology, political system or world view, united for now by the ‘China threat’. But with US freedom of navigation operations challenging Vietnam’s claims along with China’s, and no deep trust, how long can the alliance last?

Why the US-Vietnam strategic alliance in the South China Sea is unlikely to last
Opinion | US policy failure in the Philippines has deep roots: decades of American cultural hubris

Rodrigo Duterte’s move to distance the Philippines from its former colonial ruler was long in coming. Generations of US foreign-policymakers have advanced US interests as if they were the same as Philippine interests – which they are not.

18 Feb 2020 - 9:44AM

Rodrigo Duterte’s move to distance the Philippines from its former colonial ruler was long in coming. Generations of US foreign-policymakers have advanced US interests as if they were the same as Philippine interests – which they are not.

US policy failure in the Philippines has deep roots: decades of American cultural hubris
Opinion | To prevail over the US in the South China Sea, Beijing must be less ambiguous and more diplomatic

Many of China’s claims to the South China Sea are defensible, but its spokespersons have been too vague in stating and defending them. Beijing must learn to win by persuasion, and refine its claims so they are compatible with the international order.

17 Feb 2020 - 8:25PM

Many of China’s claims to the South China Sea are defensible, but its spokespersons have been too vague in stating and defending them. Beijing must learn to win by persuasion, and refine its claims so they are compatible with the international order.

To prevail over the US in the South China Sea, Beijing must be less ambiguous and more diplomatic
Opinion | Japan should beware of the deep US-China undercurrents in the South China Sea

Egged on by the US, Japan has increased its military presence in the region, but it risks awakening regional discomfort barely buried after WWII and could find itself out of its depth if the US and China start secretly preparing for conflict.

19 Dec 2019 - 9:00AM

Egged on by the US, Japan has increased its military presence in the region, but it risks awakening regional discomfort barely buried after WWII and could find itself out of its depth if the US and China start secretly preparing for conflict.

Japan should beware of the deep US-China undercurrents in the South China Sea
Opinion | How the US is losing hearts and minds in Southeast Asia to China

At the latest Asean summit in Thailand, the US failed to rally support for its criticism of China’s aggression in the South China Sea. Its sending of a lower-level delegation also reinforced suspicions of unreliable US commitment.

6 Nov 2019 - 4:46AM

At the latest Asean summit in Thailand, the US failed to rally support for its criticism of China’s aggression in the South China Sea. Its sending of a lower-level delegation also reinforced suspicions of unreliable US commitment.

How the US is losing hearts and minds in Southeast Asia to China
Opinion | As US-China rivalry hots up, what does the future hold for Southeast Asian security and the South China Sea?

No one should expect the sovereignty disputes over rocks and reefs to be resolved any time soon. But claimants including China and the Philippines may reach compromises and agree to joint development deals.

19 Sep 2019 - 9:49AM

No one should expect the sovereignty disputes over rocks and reefs to be resolved any time soon. But claimants including China and the Philippines may reach compromises and agree to joint development deals.

As US-China rivalry hots up, what does the future hold for Southeast Asian security and the South China Sea?
Opinion | The US-China problem in the South China Sea: one man’s militarisation is another man’s self-defence

The US accuses China of militarising the South China Sea, but to Beijing, it is the Pentagon that has aggressively projected power in the region. The US also has a troubling policy of taking pre-emptive action against perceived threats.

20 Aug 2019 - 5:51AM

The US accuses China of militarising the South China Sea, but to Beijing, it is the Pentagon that has aggressively projected power in the region. The US also has a troubling policy of taking pre-emptive action against perceived threats.

The US-China problem in the South China Sea: one man’s militarisation is another man’s self-defence
Opinion | The detention of an Iranian oil tanker is a test case for Western hypocrisy about the global order

Several factors complicate the UK seizure of the Iranian ship. Did the UK have the right to impose EU sanctions on an Iranian vessel, or did it break UN laws? Other countries are waiting to see how the existing global order will be upheld.

18 Jul 2019 - 7:57PM

Several factors complicate the UK seizure of the Iranian ship. Did the UK have the right to impose EU sanctions on an Iranian vessel, or did it break UN laws? Other countries are waiting to see how the existing global order will be upheld.

The detention of an Iranian oil tanker is a test case for Western hypocrisy about the global order
Opinion | US or China? Why Washington might not like Southeast Asian nations’ response

Amid growing Sino-US rivalry, Southeast Asian countries are stuck in the middle, enjoying Chinese economic aid and tech but also US military support. If America keeps making demands on them, it may simplify their choice when push comes to shove.

21 Jun 2019 - 4:50AM

Amid growing Sino-US rivalry, Southeast Asian countries are stuck in the middle, enjoying Chinese economic aid and tech but also US military support. If America keeps making demands on them, it may simplify their choice when push comes to shove.

US or China? Why Washington might not like Southeast Asian nations’ response
Opinion | How John Bolton became US foreign policy’s ‘devil incarnate’

The national security adviser undermined diplomatic attempts with North Korea, supported regime change in Venezuela and appears to be goading Iran in the Persian Gulf. Bolton’s greatest danger is that he could upset the existing international order.

16 May 2019 - 2:38AM

The national security adviser undermined diplomatic attempts with North Korea, supported regime change in Venezuela and appears to be goading Iran in the Persian Gulf. Bolton’s greatest danger is that he could upset the existing international order.

How John Bolton became US foreign policy’s ‘devil incarnate’
Opinion | US warships and PLA jets: what’s really behind the Taiwan Strait provocations between China and the US

Two Chinese jets crossed into Taiwan’s airspace last month as a warning aimed at the US, ratcheting up tension over a US-China dispute that boils down to their different interpretations of the ‘right of transit passage’ clause in the Law of the Sea.

8 Apr 2019 - 1:10AM

Two Chinese jets crossed into Taiwan’s airspace last month as a warning aimed at the US, ratcheting up tension over a US-China dispute that boils down to their different interpretations of the ‘right of transit passage’ clause in the Law of the Sea.

US warships and PLA jets: what’s really behind the Taiwan Strait provocations between China and the US
Opinion | Why the unhappy legacy of US colonialism in Southeast Asia should be a lesson to China

Southeast Asian nations, because of their colonial experience, are sensitive to real or imagined slights. Although China is different from their former colonial masters, it must tread carefully in expanding its influence in the region.

1 Apr 2019 - 8:12AM

Southeast Asian nations, because of their colonial experience, are sensitive to real or imagined slights. Although China is different from their former colonial masters, it must tread carefully in expanding its influence in the region.

Why the unhappy legacy of US colonialism in Southeast Asia should be a lesson to China
Opinion | With John Bolton leading the charge against North Korea, the US would have no qualms about breaking international law at sea, or probably anywhere else

The US national security adviser, known for his disdain for global treaties, is renewing a US effort to interdict ships suspected of carrying banned cargo to and from North Korea and violating UN sanctions. The trouble is, this could legitimately be seen as an act of war.

15 Mar 2019 - 3:39AM

The US national security adviser, known for his disdain for global treaties, is renewing a US effort to interdict ships suspected of carrying banned cargo to and from North Korea and violating UN sanctions. The trouble is, this could legitimately be seen as an act of war.

With John Bolton leading the charge against North Korea, the US would have no qualms about breaking international law at sea, or probably anywhere else
Opinion | Chinese military officers’ tough talk on the US is a product of fear and frustration, not a real threat

Recent confrontational remarks by Chinese military officers on the US are a response to American provocation in the form of increased freedom of navigation operations, new alliances such as the Quad and anti-China rhetoric in US foreign policy circles.

25 Feb 2019 - 12:30AM

Recent confrontational remarks by Chinese military officers on the US are a response to American provocation in the form of increased freedom of navigation operations, new alliances such as the Quad and anti-China rhetoric in US foreign policy circles.

Chinese military officers’ tough talk on the US is a product of fear and frustration, not a real threat
Opinion | A US strategy that seeks to ‘manage’ China based only on American interests may be a fool’s errand

Instead of seeking to contain China through a strategy of ‘competitive coexistence’, the US must accept China’s growing influence and realistically negotiate the transition to a new order in which power is shared.

13 Feb 2019 - 12:51AM

Instead of seeking to contain China through a strategy of ‘competitive coexistence’, the US must accept China’s growing influence and realistically negotiate the transition to a new order in which power is shared.

A US strategy that seeks to ‘manage’ China based only on American interests may be a fool’s errand