The territorial dispute over South China Sea among China and its neighbors is being intensified with an increase in both a potential value of natural resources in the region and a strategic value of sea lines of communication.

The reason that I put among instead of "between" is to avoid ambiguity. For example, if i say "between," I thought the sentence means "China versus other neighbors allied".

I wanted to mean "China versus country A versus B versus C.. ." So, the question is, my usage is correct? If not, how can I edit this?

  • I really don't get why "between" was replaced.
    – Varun Nair
    Dec 28, 2015 at 9:31
  • @VarunKN I mentioned the reason above. Or, did you mean that it is better to say "between" instead of "among"?
    – Yunhee
    Dec 28, 2015 at 9:42
  • 3
    Between does not mean "between two objects", it can be used in relation to several objects. Related question: between vs. among Dec 28, 2015 at 9:58
  • @Yunhee, Your reason isn't valid. 'Between' can be used. There isn't any ambiguity. 'Between' needn't imply 'China vs all the neighbors'. It can also mean 'China vs Neighbor 1 vs Neighbor 2 vs...'.
    – Varun Nair
    Dec 28, 2015 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


Among signifies interaction within a given group, synonymous with within

Among the boys, William was the tallest.

Between is used to show comparison

Between William and David, William was taller.

If you mean the countries in that area, you could use

The conflict among the South China Sea countries

Because you have specifically named China as one of the countries, it seems more natural to use between

The conflict between China and its neighbors on the South China Sea

If you list several of the countries

The conflict between China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea
The conflict among China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea

have the same meaning, however there is an ambiguity since it sounds like all the countries may be fighting with each other, not just one side versus another side

In your particular example, I believe the disputes are between China and the other countries. Although the other countries may not have a formal alliance, there may be some agreement among them as to a potential threat.

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