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Dispatches from the South China Sea

Navigating to Common Ground

by James Borton

Paperback eBook PDF

Publisher: Universal-Publishers
Pub date: 2022
Pages: 270
ISBN-10: 1627343709
ISBN-13: 9781627343701
Categories: Political SciencePolitical ScienceHistory & Biography


The impact of continuous coastal development, reclamation, destruction of corals, overfishing and increased maritime traffic places all of us on the front lines of preserving our oceans. Marine biologists, who share a common language that cuts across political, economic and social differences, recognize that the sea’s remarkable coral reefs, which provide food, jobs and protection against storms and floods, have suffered unprecedented rates of destruction in recent decades.

Dispatches from the South China Sea’s blend of participatory research and field reportage paves the way for a transformation of policy and, provides a basis for the eventual resolution of some of today’s major maritime conflicts.

From overfishing, illegal and unregulated fishing, coral reef destruction and reclamations,Dispatches from the South China Sea charts science-driven cooperation opportunities. James Borton purposefully and passionately argues that the South China Sea can become a body of water that unites, rather than divides.


Listen to author interview on KYMN Radio 95.1 FM from Northfield, Minnesota, National Security This Week with James Borton, Host Jon Olson talks with James Borton, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) about environmental security in the South China Sea. August 23, 2023 10:07 am (Also available on Spotify)

...The book is a must-read for anyone interested in better understanding the impact of environmental degradation on their social, economic, political, and cultural lives in the South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific.
Book review in Strategic Analysis by Mrityunjaya Dubey (12 Sep 2022)

Author in the news (making news). See Scientific cooperation can cut through South China Sea deadlock: Joint efforts needed to save fish stocks and coral reefs from destructionby James Borton (July 28, 2022)

Virtual talk by author at University of Alberta, China Institute. 2022 July 14. Click for Zoom recording.

Watch author interview, Outcomes of the June2022 IISS Shangri-La Security Dialogue by Institute for China-American Studies (ICAS) 2022 July 6th

See author at, After Biden's pivot to Asia, China feels the chill by Yun Sun (23 June 2022)

See Bakers Dozen Competition or Cooperation: Fishing in the South China Sea by RANE Podcast Series (June 2022)

See In Conversation with James Borton 9Dashline (3 May 2022)

See The Maritime Executive: Intellectual Capital for Leaders New Book Calls For Science-Driven Cooperation In The South China Sea (18 April 2022)

See AsiaGlobal Online, Asia Perspectives/Global Issues Science Diplomacy is Required to Avert a South China Sea Ecological Collapse (30 March 2022)

See US Asia Institute Mr. Borton speaks about regional martime conflict in Southeast Asia (11 March 2022)

See Foreign Policy Review Eurasia Review and A Defense Of The Global Commons – Book Review by Peter Tase (March, 2022)

See International Policy Digest A Primer for the South China Sea by Peter Marko Tase (March, 2022)

See Asia Times "[This] book that shines a glaring light on the ecological challenges facing a region more known as a geopolitical hotspot – and offers potential solutions" by Tanya Vatsa (March, 2022)

See Taipei Times "This thoroughly researched book examines the marine degradation in the South China Sea and the major players who can do something about it by Bradley Winterton (Feb 24, 2022)

See Hanoi Times "Book by James Borton warning of environmental aatastrophe in South China Sea" by Linh Pham (Feb 08, 2022)

See The South China Sea's Environmental Crisis: An important new book shows ... China's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea by Kent Harrington (Jan 28, 2022)

See The Looming Environmental Catastrophe in the South China Sea by Murray Hiebert

This book is a self-admitted exercise in optimism sustained in the face of wide-ranging realities of the politics and ecology of the South China Sea today....(Click to read full review.) by Philip Bowring of Asia Sentinel, 2021 Dec 11th.

This must-read and eminently readable study takes readers on a voyage through the seemingly intractable problems in the South China Sea to reveal how through environmental collaboration competing nations can adopt trust and science-driven peace building measures that can help reduce the risks of conflict.
--Carla Freeman, Senior Expert China, United States Institute of Peace

The elegantly written memoir chronicles the gradual erosion of the marine biodiversity of the South China Sea, a victim of the power politics in the region.
--James Kraska, Chair and Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Maritime Law, Stockton Center for International Law, US Naval War College

James Borton provides a personal and thoughtful new book about Vietnamese fishermen who are caught in the middle of sovereignty disputes and environmental security issues.
--Binh Lai (Ph.D.), Deputy-General, East Sea (South China Sea) Institute

A timely book that grapple with some of the biggest issues of our time: finding meaningful solutions to the existential planetary crisis posed by climate change and the intensifying geopolitical competition in the South China Sea. An insightful read for anyone interested in the future of the Indo-Pacific.
--Dr. Manali Kumar Editor-in-Chief 9Dashline

This is a book about hope and the future of marine biodiversity and sustainability in the South China Sea. It is a major contribution to an understudied field.
--Larry Berman, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis

Dispatches from the South China Sea is a timely and thought provoking book that explains the intricate relations and exposes the devastating environmental impacts that bring concern to all nations from in the Indo-Pacific region.
Rear Admiral Scott Sanders, United States Navy (Retired)

Borton combines his own expert knowledge of the region with a broad range of perspectives. It is an once an arresting yet hopeful book – one that ought to change how even the most informed readers think about the South China Sea.
--Dr. Peter Harris, Department of Political Science at Colorado State University, and editor of "Indo-Pacific Perspectives" section of the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs

Journalist James Borton’s elegant writing echoes Rachel Carson as he blows the whistle on a powerful environmental and human catastrophe of coral reef destruction, overfishing, illegal fishing and murder on the open sea.
--Skye Moody, author of Washed Up, The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam

Maritime protein (fish, squid, and crabs) is a critical and often overlooked element of competition and contention in the South China Sea. In bringing this to the fore, and drawing on the perspective of the fishermen and marine scientists, Borton adds an important component to our understanding of the South China Sea and management of regional tensions.
--Rodger Baker, Senior Vice President Strategic Analysis, Stratfor

In this bold, personal, and unapologetic narrative, Borton uses compelling stories from fishermen and marine scientists to offer key insights on peacebuilding through science cooperation.
--Severine Autesserre, author of Peaceland and The Frontlines of Peace

About the Author

James Borton is a foreign correspondent who has been reporting on Southeast Asia for over 30 years. He is a past non-resident fellow at the Stimson Center and is currently a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). James resides in South Carolina and is a keen sailor and waterman.