The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative recently released a “A Blueprint for Oil and Gas Production in the South China Sea.” It is an important contribution to thinking about interim solutions to these seemingly intractable disputes.
A US Navy Poseidon 8-A flew over or “near” four of China’s occupied features in the South China Sea. A radio voice identifying itself as “the Chinese military” requested the plane to “leave immediately and keep off to avoid any misunderstanding.”
At the ASEAN meetings, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated an indirect but obvious warning to China that Washington was committed to the rule of law in the South China Sea. He then announced a security aid package to Southeast Asia prioritizing maritime security.
In the run up to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ first visit to China from June 27-28, 2018, he said: “I want to go in without poisoning the well and do a lot of listening.” Well he certainly got an earful regarding the South China Sea.
By reframing the issue, the perceived threat to the DPRK’s ideological and psychological security may be reduced. A common discursive ground may then be found to engage the DPRK without a breakdown in dialogue on denuclearization, peace and the normalization of relations.
The war of words and tit-for-tat provocative actions of China and the US regarding the South China Sea could spiral out of control. Thus, it is a good time for analysts and decision makers to step back and distinguish between hope (the possible) and reality (the probable).