South China Sea

US Navy

The South China Sea, home to a wealth of oil and natural gas deposits, is the subject of numerous territorial disputes between the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Beyond the natural resources in the region, there are also vital international trade routes--  about half of all oil tanker shipments cross the South China Sea-- military bases, and fisheries. China, in particular, continues to increase its military presence in the area and island-building, putting both the region and the United States on alert.

Latest in South China Sea

Water Wars

Water Wars: Disjointed Operations in the South China Sea

In the first weeks of May, U.S. vessels have been busy all over the South China Sea, drawing China’s ire and frustration. From May 2 to May 8, the destroyer USS William P. Lawrence joined ships from the Philippines, India and Japan in transiting through the South China Sea, performing formation exercises and other low-profile drills during the voyage.

Foreign Policy Essay

The End of U.S. Naval Dominance in Asia

Editor’s Note: Although the Trump administration has made much of China's rise when it comes to trade, the president should be focused more on the security implications. Robert Ross of Boston College points to the decline in U.S. naval strength in East Asia as a game-changer for the regional order. Ross argues that the Navy's forward presence is strained, while China's capabilities are growing steadily. U.S. allies are aware of this painful reality, and their willingness to trust America to protect them will decline.

Daniel Byman

Water Wars

Water Wars: Pence Accuses China of Domestic Interference and Warships Have Close-Call in South China Sea

In a speech delivered on Oct. 4, Vice President Mike Pence escalated the Trump administration’s rhetoric against China. At the Hudson Institute, Pence warned that Beijing represents the greatest strategic competitor to the United States and outlined what the U.S. sees as increased economic and political interference by China, in addition to the existing military competition.

Water Wars

Water Wars: Under the Sea

China and the Philippines plan to conduct talks and potentially sign an agreement regarding joint exploration for hydrocarbons, oil and natural gas in South China Sea. This agreement could cover portions of the South China Sea such as the Reed Bank that were under dispute in the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration.

South China Sea

Countering China’s Actions in the South China Sea

For many who follow developments in the South China Sea, the July 2016 tribunal ruling in the Philippines’ case against China has become the equivalent of the birth of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar: Developments are considered B.A. and A.A.—Before Award and After Award.

In the first year after the award, compliance was fair: Beijing largely kept its actions, if not its words, within the letter of the ruling.

Water Wars

Water Wars: China Crashes the Party at the Rim of the Pacific Exercises

The 26th biennial Rim of the Pacific naval military exercises, the largest international maritime exercises in the world, kicked off in and around Hawaii on June 27 with one participant notably absent. The U.S. military chose to disinvite China this year due to its “continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col.

South China Sea

It’s Time for South China Sea Economic Sanctions

The most recent U.S. freedom-of-navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea garnered the usual global headlines, but it also shows how ineffective such operations have been in deterring Chinese actions in the region. It was so inconsequential that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not even be bothered to come up with new phrases in what is now a ritualized denunciation.

South China Sea

The British are Coming to the South China Sea, and It's About Time

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recently announced that the Royal Navy would be conducting a South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) after its visit to Australia later this year. His statement also contained a rare full-throated specific endorsement of U.S. FONOPs in the region. “We absolutely support the U.S. approach on this, we very much support what the U.S.

China

The South China Sea and China's "Four Sha" Claim: New Legal Theory, Same Bad Argument

The Washington Free Beacon reports that China may be backing away from its most controversial legal justification in the South China Sea: the “Nine-Dash Line.” Officials from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs advanced a new legal theory at a closed-door meeting with U.S.

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