Arguing that security relations between China and Southeast Asia are profoundly affected by disputes over maritime space and territory in the South China Sea, the author demonstrates that the primacy of strategic competition over strategic partnerships promotes the emergence of a structure of deterrence, encouraging South East Asia to side with the United States to balance the military power of China. Combining the concepts of international disputes and order, the book establishes a framework designed to focus on periods of transition where international regulatory mechanisms are out of step with developments in the security environments of states. Features include: - Substantial evidence that strategic competition between the United States, China and South East Asia promotes stability. - A comprehensive account of military, diplomatic, economic, historical and legal aspects of security environments of states. Suitable for scholars and graduate students of international relations, international law, security studies, conflict management and regionalism, it will also be invaluable supplementary reading for undergraduate courses.