Author: Alejandro Christian D. Soler

Research Article

Year: 2019, Volume 19 Number 1

Pages: 156-168


This paper aims to provide an alternative viewpoint on China and the South China Sea islands dispute through the use of political geography. Specifically, this piece employs a world-systems approach and critical political geography [or critical geopolitics] to understand four phenomena: first, the political-economic rationale behind China’s territorial ambitions through the nexus of its political ideology and position in the world economy; second, these ambitions using the “One Belt, One Road initiative;” third, its rise as a potential global hegemon; and lastly, the narratives behind its actions in the South China Sea islands dispute. The paper makes no claims about the superiority of world-systems and critical political geographies in explaining a state’s territorial ambition or expansionary behavior. What it attempts to provide is a different, yet complementary, lens to probe issues like this, which typically are confined to the realm of traditional geopolitics or realist international relations. World-systems and critical political geography offer a promise of cogently examining regional and global issues of this nature.


Keywords: China, world-systems analysis, critical political geography, South China Sea islands dispute