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Gray Zone Tactics Playbook: Pretext to Escalate
Gray Zone Tactics Playbook: Pretext to Escalate
While other countries treat maritime incidents as crises to be deescalated, Beijing seizes upon them as pretext for calculated escalations, by which it means to reset the board in its favor.
MAR 4, 2024
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Resource Warfare on the High Seas
Failure to get serious about overfishing as a form of resource warfare will lead to depleted fisheries and collapsed marine environments which will exacerbate economic inequality, food scarcity and regional instability.
FEB 16, 2024
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The Philippines can't copy Vietnam's China policy
The threat China's maritime aggression poses to Philippine interests represents a more clear, present and unavoidable danger than that faced by its neighbors.
FEB 6, 2024
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Game Changer: The Philippines' Assertive Transparency Campaign
SeaLight and the Stratbase ADR Institute release the first detailed examination of how the Philippines rewrote the counter-gray zone playbook in 2023.
JAN 15, 2024

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SeaLight is committed to lighting up the maritime gray zone so that bullies and criminals can no longer hide in the darkness while they harass law-abiding fisherfolk; destroy the marine environment and fish stocks; prevent legitimate exploration and survey activities; and violate international law and other countries' sovereign rights.
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Latest Resources

South China Sea-related materials, maps, media, databases, and more. Collected and curated in our searchable research library.
SeaLight Director interview, ABS-CBN News (Manila)
Published MAR 3, 2024
Headstart: Karen Davila talks to Maritime Security Expert Ray Powell for his insights on the latest incident of 'dangerous maneuvers' by China in the West Philippine Sea.
Assertive Transparency in the Gray Zone with Ray Powell - Sea Control podcast
Published FEB 9, 2024
Ray Powell joins the program to discuss his recent work “Game Changer: The Philippines’ Assertive Transparency Campaign: How the Philippines Rewrote the Counter Gray Zone Playbook in 2023.”
Tracking Tensions at Second Thomas Shoal
Published FEB 1, 2024
Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative report tracking the dramatic increase in PRC and Philippine ships during resupply missions at Second Thomas Shoal over time.
‘Speed forward, fight close and hit hard’ — How China won the Battle of the Paracel Islands
Published JAN 24, 2024
Analysis of the history of the Paracel Island group leading up to the 1974 battle in which China expelled South Vietnamese troops and took full control of the archipelago.
Game Changer: The Philippines’ Assertive Transparency Campaign Against China
Published JAN 12, 2024
The paper is an elaborate description of how assertive transparency constitutes a formidable state policy and strategy against China’s comprehensive gray zone maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea.
South China Sea NewsWire
Published DEC 4, 2023
News aggregator for South China Sea-related stories.
NUS Satellite Research Project on Insular Geographic Features in the South China Sea
Published SEP 3, 2023
This National University of Singapore (NUS) project involved a satellite image-based mapping of all visible insular geographic features in the SCS, including natural and man-made features. Note that the project ended in 2016, and therefore lacks imagery and descriptions of much of the infrastructure on the features.
AIS What is it?
Published SEP 3, 2023
Infographic from environmental NGO Oceana explaining the basics of AIS.
West Philippine Sea - An Online Resource of the Foreign Service Institute Philippines
Published JUL 12, 2023
This site disseminates information on key Philippine maritime and territorial concerns.
SeaLight 333 Ep. 1 - Philippines v. China, the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Award
Published JUL 11, 2023
A short video explainer about why the Philippines took China to international arbitration, why it won, and why it was such a big deal.
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In The News

Our finds on the latest articles and information from outside of the SeaLight team.
Ayungin collision with China causes ‘minor structural damage’ on PH Coast Guard ship
Published MAR 5, 2024
A China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel collided with the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG)’s BRP Sindangan during a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday, March 5.
Marcos: We must defend PH territory
Published MAR 5, 2024
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday that he had no choice but to defend his country's territory in the South China Sea against what he called Chinese aggression, and he might even "push back ties" if Beijing continues to trample upon Philippine interests.
President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr deepens maritime ties with Australia as he vows not to yield an inch to China
Published FEB 29, 2024
President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr has vowed his country will not yield an "inch" of territory to China and has spruiked expanding military ties with Australia during a speech to federal parliament. Australia and the Philippines have also signed a new agreement to deepen maritime cooperation in a sign the two nations are likely to step up joint exercises and patrols in the contested waters of the South China Sea.
Vietnam opposes Chinese vessel's operation near Vanguard Bank
Published FEB 29, 2024
Vietnam strongly opposes acts of violations of its sovereignty over Vanguard Bank, the foreign ministry said Thursday.
Malaysia keeps eye on ‘status quo’, Beijing trade ties with quiet approach in South China Sea
Published FEB 28, 2024
Malaysia’s low-key response to Chinese coastguard patrols of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) signals an interest in maintaining economic ties with Beijing and a desire not to “politicise or unilaterally alter the status quo in the region”, analysts have said.
China's Coast Guard: The Tip of Xi's Spear
Published FEB 29, 2024
China's coast guard vessels may be painted white, but they operate in what has been called the "gray zone," embarking on coercive activities that deliberately stop short of war. The agency's enforcement of declared national boundaries—as close as 6 miles and as far as 600 miles from the Chinese coast—poses unique policy challenges for U.S. allies and partners in Asia.
China Deploys Military Helicopter As Dispute With US Ally Escalates
Published FEB 28, 2024
China dispatched a military helicopter to disputed waters and jammed the tracking systems of Philippine ships in the area to keep them from broadcasting their locations, the Philippine Coast Guard has claimed.
China Claims it Forced US Ally from Chinese Waters
Published FEB 24, 2024
A weeks-long information war between China and the Philippines continued on Friday as both sides asserted sovereign rights near one of Asia's most contested maritime flashpoints.
B-52H bomber joins PH jets for WPS patrol, irks China
Published FEB 21, 2024
The United States has sent a nuclear-capable bomber for its first joint patrol with the Philippine military over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), prompting China’s military to send its forces there to monitor that activity.
'China won't dare remove Sierra Madre from Ayungin'
Published FEB 19, 2024
Not wanting a military confrontation with the United States, China will not dare to remove the dilapidated BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal and will instead wait for it to fall apart, a United States-based maritime security analyst said.
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JUL 12, 2023
SeaLight is live! Let's light up the maritime gray zone.
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