In 2013, the situation regarding China's surrounding oceans was characterized by "tension in the east and stability in the south". In 2014, the trend will continue.
This year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy focus may shift from economy to security issues and he will persist with his attempts to rewrite the constitution and expand the Japanese military. Abe has said he will not accept the "Sino-Japanese condominium of the Diaoyu Islands". Some Japanese politicians have even threatened to submit China's oil and gas exploration activities in the East China Sea to international arbitration. In addition, Abe's recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine also created new obstacles to Sino-Japanese ties. So the possibilities of restoring good relations between China and Japan Sino-Japanese relations are limited.
Neither side wishes to provoke open conflict, but the risk of accidental misadventure remains.
Cooperation in the South China Sea is on an upward trend, and signed agreements are expected to be implemented; the scope of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will be expanded; detailed plans for the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund are expected to be introduced; the parties involved will press forward steadily with negotiations on the "Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea".
Of course the situation in the South China Sea will continue to create waves, but there should be no major areas of dispute. Even so, the United States and Japan may increase their intervention in South China Sea issues and use the situation as a stepping stone in their efforts to constrain China's pursuit of its legitimate interests.