Vietnam and China have sparred over competing claims in the South China Sea for nearly 50 years. Recently, Vietnamese officials have begun initiating legal proceedings against China to try and change their unfavorable position in the region.
Peter Dutton is Professor of Strategic Studies in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the US Naval War College.He is a retired Navy Judge Advocate and former Naval Flight Officer. He holds a J.D. from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. from King’s College London. He is Adjunct Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, Senior Research Fellow at the US-Asia Law Institute, and Associate in Research at Harvard University's Fairbank Center for China Studies. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect the official views of the U.S. Navy or any other agency of the U.S. government.
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On May 24, the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) operated within 12 nautical miles (nm) of Mischief Reef, a disputed feature in the South China Sea (SCS) controlled by the People’s Republic of China, but also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The Dewey’s action evidently challenged China’s right to control maritime zones adjacent to the reef —which was declared by the South China Sea arbitration to be nothing more than a low tide elevation on the Philippine continental shelf.