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This article argues that great-power balancing based on perceptions, pragmatism, and political will affect the prospects of settling maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific. The United States and China recognize each other as opponents in a bipolar structure that must set aside political morality to avert violent confrontation. Stable Sino-U.S. balancing creates a window of opportunity for Southeast Asia to establish an order with China in the South China Sea founded in raison de système. China sees Japan as a power not entitled to regional political leadership. Japan sees China as a power with insufficient political capacities in a multipolar structure. Raison d’état dominates Sino-Japanese relations, making the Senkaku dispute a hot spot. Russia and Japan focus on the United States and China in a structure seen as multipolar. Their capacity for moderation is set off by their relative mutual indifference, creating a stalemate in the South Kuriles dispute. The article analyzes these three maritime disputes in the context of great-power balancing, arguing that prospects for future cooperation are best between China and Southeast Asia.