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Water Wars: In the South China Sea, Beijing Faces Twin Threats of New U.S. Military Presence and Pushback from an Old Friend
China suffered two major setbacks in the South China Sea this week. First, sparks flew between the PRC and Indonesia when the bungled seizure of a Chinese fishing vessel in Indonesian waters almost led to a direct conflict. Later in the week, the United States and the Philippines announce a new decade-long pact that will allow American troops to rotate between five PH bases, many close to PRC installations in the South China Sea.
China opened up a new front for South China Sea conflict this week when one of its coast guard vessels collided with an Indonesian coast guard ship in the process of towing a captured Chinese vessel alleged to be engaged in illegal fishing.
Could we be witnessing a legal cascade in the South China Sea? Most states with claims have thus far eschewed formal legal challenges to China, but that could be changing. In the wake of the Philippines' legal victory against China (if only on jurisdictional questions), Indonesia's security chief has suggested that his country might also challenge Chinese claims.
Aerial photo of Chinese land reclamation in the Spratly Islands (Photo: AP)
Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth patrols near the Spratlys (Photo: MC2 Conor Minto/U.S. Navy)
USTR Michael Froman with TPP-partner trade ministers (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency)
Welcome to the first edition of Water Wars, our new weekly roundup of the latest news, analysis, and opinions related to ongoing tensions in the South and East China Seas. Each Friday, we’ll provide an overview of what you need to know to stay current on the rapidly-evolving security situation in the Asian Pacific. If you are aware of relevant news, developments, or documents, please email Zack Bluestone.
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