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 | 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
Opinion | To renew the US-Philippines relationship, start with ditching the American-centric lens

A possible review of the Philippines’ Mutual Defence Treaty with the US has alarmed US-Asia policy experts, but the rhetoric continues to centre on American interests.

1 Feb 2019 - 9:36AM

A possible review of the Philippines’ Mutual Defence Treaty with the US has alarmed US-Asia policy experts, but the rhetoric continues to centre on American interests.

To renew the US-Philippines relationship, start with ditching the American-centric lens
Opinion | The best and worst outcomes of the Singapore-Malaysia territorial disputes

Malaysia’s territorial disputes with Singapore reflect the countries’ bitter past. But, in the long term, a trade-off is possible: one side gets to maintain its maritime claim, and the other gets to manage the airspace.

19 Jan 2019 - 11:06AM

Malaysia’s territorial disputes with Singapore reflect the countries’ bitter past. But, in the long term, a trade-off is possible: one side gets to maintain its maritime claim, and the other gets to manage the airspace.

The best and worst outcomes of the Singapore-Malaysia territorial disputes
Opinion | A new British naval base in Southeast Asia could stoke resentment, split Asean and put the UK in China’s cross hairs

Britain’s ambition to project post-Brexit global influence and join the US in containing China may have consequences London isn’t prepared for.

11 Jan 2019 - 7:10PM

Britain’s ambition to project post-Brexit global influence and join the US in containing China may have consequences London isn’t prepared for.

A new British naval base in Southeast Asia could stoke resentment, split Asean and put the UK in China’s cross hairs
Opinion | In a post-James-Mattis South China Sea, can the next US defence chief do what needs to be done to prevent war?

The new US defence secretary will have to understand, as James Mattis did, the balance required for the US to stay in the Indo-Pacific as a leading strategic power but also prevent conflict with China.

2 Jan 2019 - 2:14AM

The new US defence secretary will have to understand, as James Mattis did, the balance required for the US to stay in the Indo-Pacific as a leading strategic power but also prevent conflict with China.

In a post-James-Mattis South China Sea, can the next US defence chief do what needs to be done to prevent war?
Opinion | Could the Philippines fall victim to a US-China proxy conflict?

With Beijing and Washington stepping up their struggle for influence in the region, a bitter debate on how Manila should respond is polarising the political classes and stirring up old rivalries.

21 Dec 2018 - 11:41AM

With Beijing and Washington stepping up their struggle for influence in the region, a bitter debate on how Manila should respond is polarising the political classes and stirring up old rivalries.

Could the Philippines fall victim to a US-China proxy conflict?
Opinion | China could edge the US out of the South China Sea by softening its approach to Southeast Asian rivals

Southeast Asian nations are open to better ties with China and do not necessarily see US freedom of navigation operations as being in their interests. By proposing joint development or mutual use of disputed areas and capitalising on its economic power, China could lure Southeast Asia away from the US.

28 Nov 2018 - 8:35PM

Southeast Asian nations are open to better ties with China and do not necessarily see US freedom of navigation operations as being in their interests. By proposing joint development or mutual use of disputed areas and capitalising on its economic power, China could lure Southeast Asia away from the US.

China could edge the US out of the South China Sea by softening its approach to Southeast Asian rivals
Opinion | On the South China Sea, US and Chinese military leaders continue to talk past each other

A recent US-China security dialogue failed to produce any tension-defusing agreement. The two sides agreed that the talks had been “candid”, but the US continued to misconstrue Xi Jinping’s remarks on militarisation in the South China Sea.

14 Nov 2018 - 6:26AM

A recent US-China security dialogue failed to produce any tension-defusing agreement. The two sides agreed that the talks had been “candid”, but the US continued to misconstrue Xi Jinping’s remarks on militarisation in the South China Sea.

On the South China Sea, US and Chinese military leaders continue to talk past each other
Opinion | Amid South China Sea tensions, what will the meeting between the US and China’s defence chiefs yield?

Mark J. Valencia says amid escalating tensions between the US and China, the meeting between the two defence chiefs could establish ground rules for what may prove to be a dangerous period for US-China relations ahead.

1 Nov 2018 - 3:30AM

Mark J. Valencia says amid escalating tensions between the US and China, the meeting between the two defence chiefs could establish ground rules for what may prove to be a dangerous period for US-China relations ahead.

Amid South China Sea tensions, what will the meeting between the US and China’s defence chiefs yield?
South China Sea: how well do China and the US really know each other’s intentions?

Washington and Beijing both act as though they know what the other wants in the South China Sea, but may be falling victim to worst-case thinking that risks further conflict.

26 Sep 2018 - 6:19AM

Washington and Beijing both act as though they know what the other wants in the South China Sea, but may be falling victim to worst-case thinking that risks further conflict.

South China Sea: how well do China and the US really know each other’s intentions?
Naval code of conduct won’t make US-China encounters in South China Sea safer

The non-binding Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea is creating false hopes for regional maritime stability. The real problem is China and the US have conflicting security strategies for China’s near seas.

6 Sep 2018 - 9:28PM

The non-binding Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea is creating false hopes for regional maritime stability. The real problem is China and the US have conflicting security strategies for China’s near seas.

Naval code of conduct won’t make US-China encounters in South China Sea safer
US is using Rimpac to woo Asean and counter its move towards China, but will it work?

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise from which China was excluded this year is no floating cocktail party but a display of US soft power.

12 Jul 2018 - 7:54PM

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise from which China was excluded this year is no floating cocktail party but a display of US soft power.

US is using Rimpac to woo Asean and counter its move towards China, but will it work?