30 October 2015

ChinaFile Conversation: “Making Waves in the South China Sea”

What next? How to manage? I suggest the next steps: as China challenges, the United States must keep calm and press on.

Challenging China’s newly assertive behavior in the South China Sea, this week the U.S. Navy sailed some of its biggest ships inside the nine-dash line, exercising its claim to freedom of movement in international waters plied by billions in trade each day. Was the U.S. action necessary? What might have been done differently? What was the calculus in Washington and what are the risks? What happened and what might happen next? —The Editors

Andrew S. Erickson, “Making Waves in the South China Sea,” A ChinaFile Conversation, The Asia Society, 30 October 2015.

… Self-righteous ranting in state media outlets cannot change the fact that in its recent efforts to jurisdictionalize and de-internationalize the majority of the South China Sea, China:

Nevertheless, given its cultivation of nationalism to shore up public support despite a slowing economy, China’s government likely will attempt to increase pressure in an attempt to frustrate U.S. efforts and deter U.S. allies and partners from supporting them. Pressure will come in multiple forms, from diplomacy and public messaging to assertive activities on land and on and over the sea. …

In its current blustering, China is on the wrong side of both law and history, but is unlikely to initiate open conflict despite Admiral Wu Shengli’s dire predictions. The United States should keep calm and press on. It enjoys extensive, if often quiet, support throughout the Asia-Pacific and beyond. It should continue FONOPS and other legal activities to continually demonstrate that Beijing cannot carve out the “Near Seas” (Yellow, East, and South China seas) into a zone of exceptionalism where Beijing’s parochial priorities supersede vital international laws and norms.

This will require sustained determination. As President Obama himself recognizes, one must be “firm with [China], because they will push as hard as they can until they meet resistance.”

 

  • Tim

    安德鲁·S·埃里克森你也知道,11月2日在美国国会安全问题会议上,主持人问美陆军参谋长马克·米莱“谁是美国的主要威胁?“
    米莱回:俄罗斯视为美国的头号威胁,它是唯一能摧毁美国的国家。这就是美国惧怕俄罗斯的唯一原因。中国哪一天成为‘唯二的有能力摧毁美国的国家’的时候,
    美国决不敢在南海为所欲为,任意欺辱中国,视中国军队为无物。

  • Andre

    My thoughts are that China’s objective is to have a share in the energy development of the ECS and SCS. Beijing must be aware that even an impoverished country such as the Philippines can nevertheless through asymmetrical means disrupt the flow of energy if it seizes and exploits those deposits by force.

    Moreover, if China defeats US and its allies in the process then it will lose economically and no longer even require the energy security.

    I think Beijing wants a share in the energy irrespective of UNCLOS, and unless it gets it, we might be faced with a dangerous enemy.

    Thoughts?