Territorial Disputes, Gray Zone Challenges and Great Power Influence in East & Southeast Asia

Lyle J. Morris
30 April 2019

This seminar presents the results of a RAND study on the strategic challenge posed by China, which seeks strategic advantage through coercive actions below the threshold of armed conflict in what is sometimes termed the gray zone between peace and war. This study sought to build on extensive work to define and understand the gray zone challenge by focusing especially on what to do about it – laying out a strategic concept for the issue and a menu of response options. The first part will discuss what is driving Chinese gray zone actions; the second part will present examples of the types of actions China is employing; the last part proposes how the U.S., allies and partners may consider options for responding to the challenge.

About the Speaker: Lyle J. Morris is a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where he focuses on security developments in East and Southeast Asia. He has over ten years of experience researching and leading projects on Asia-Pacific security issues and has published recently on the rise of coast guards in East and Southeast Asia, gray zone disputes, maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, and Chinese military modernization. His articles have appeared in Naval War College ReviewAsia PolicyThe DiplomatThe National InterestThe China BriefAviation Week & Space TechnologyAsia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), Asia Pacific Bulletin, and U.S. News and World Report, among others. Prior to joining RAND, Morris was the 2010-11 Next Generation Fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and a research intern with the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). From 2004 to 2008, Morris lived in Beijing, China, where he studied Mandarin Chinese at Peking and Tsinghua Universities and later worked at Dentsu Advertising and the China Economist Journal. Morris received his master’s degree in international affairs from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where he was the recipient of the George C. Marshall Prize in Strategic Studies for his paper on China’s experience with confidence-building measures. He holds a certificate in East Asian Studies from Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. He received his M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University

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