Berlin Security Beat

Episode 06: “Power Struggles in the South China Sea”

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Sara Mitchell, Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, and an expert on international conflict, esp. territorial, river and maritime issues, joins Dr. Katharina Emschermann, Deputy Director at the Centre for International Security, to talk about maritime disputes. They discuss:

  • the ins and outs of the disputes in the South China Sea,
  • how climate change increases the risk of maritime conflict,
  • why some of those conflicts turn violent while others are resolved peacefully,
  • whether the United States needs a larger fleet,
  • and, finally, what maritime conflicts to worry about.


Caverly, Jonathan/ Mitchell, Sara M. (2021): A Liberal Case for Seapower?, 02/25/2021, Cfr (2020): China’s Maritime Disputes: 1895-2020,

Cunningham, Fiona S. (2020): The Maritime Rung on the Escalation Ladder: Naval Blockades in a U.S.-China Conflict, Security Studies, 29 (4),

Grossman, Derek/ Ma, Logan (2020): A Short History of China's Fishing Militia and What It May Tell Us, 04/06/2020,

Hayton, Bill (2018): Two Years On, South China Sea Ruling Remains a Battleground for the Rules-Based Order,

Hensel, Paul R./ Mitchell, Sara M. (2019): The Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) Project,

Mitchell, Sara M. (2021): The Path from Iowa Farm Girl to Iowa Professor, H-Diplo Essay 325, Essay Series: Learning the Scholar’s Craft: Reflections of Historians and International Relations Scholars,

Mitchell, Sara M. (2020): Clashes at Sea: Explaining the Onset, Militarization, and Resolution of Diplomatic Maritime Claims, Security Studies, 29(4), 637-670,

Schmidt, Cody J., Lee, Bomi K. and Mitchell, Sara M. (2021): Climate Bones of Contention: How Climate Variability Influences Territorial, Maritime, and River Interstate Conflicts, Journal of Peace Research, 58(1), 132–150,

Wirth, Christian/ Schatz, Valentin (2020): South China Sea "Lawfare": Fighting over the Freedom of Navigation, (GIGA Focus Asien, 5), Hamburg: GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies - Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien, Institut für Asien-Studien,

Zhang, Ketian (2019): Cautious Bully: Reputation, Resolve, and Beijing's Use of Coercion in the South China Sea, International Security, 44(1), 117–159,

Sara Mitchell’s Choice for Best Article/Book:

Daxecker, Ursula/ Prins, Brandon (2021): Pirate Lands: Governance and Maritime Piracy, Oxford,

Thomas, Jakana L. (2021). Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: Assessing the Effect of Gender Norms on the Lethality of Female Suicide Terrorism. International Organization, 1-34,


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