||The South China Sea has been an area of perpetual tension between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Since 1970 there have only been a few notable encounters between nations but plenty of strong discourse. What makes the conflict stand out is that during all these years there has been no escalation but no resolution either. There has been ample research done as to what possible solutions for the conflict may be, with varying degrees of feasibility. What is severely lacking is a better understanding of how this perpetual status quo is possible. This research looks for answers in three different theoretical schools, namely processual constructivism, hedging, and regional multilateralism. While the first particularly novel theory holds substantial explanatory power as far as China is concerned it fails to incorporate the behavior of other states. Hedging strategies in turn explain the absence of escalation rather well but not so much the absence of a resolution. It is a theory that focuses on Southeast Asian states and not all parties involved. Finally, regional multilateralism best explains the perpetuation of the conflict as well as the absence of a resolution. Ultimately, all these theories complement each other and altogether contribute to a much better understanding of the conflict.