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Mark J. Valencia:
By Mark J. Valencia - 15 Aug 2018
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.
By Mark J. Valencia - 25 Jul 2018
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).
Over the past few years, bashing China for its policy and actions in the South China Sea has become quite common in the US foreign policy community. More recently, the criticism has become ever more strident and dangerous.
In a recent posting in The Diplomat, Tuan N. Pham denies that realpolitik can triumph or has triumphed over moralpolitik and urges the US not to “back down” in the South China Sea.
Most analysts agree that China and the US are locked in a seminal long-term struggle for dominance in Asia. A new and more dangerous phase in their troubled relationship may be beginning and one window on this dynamic is their behavior in the South China Sea.
The US and China have apparently reached a tacit agreement to disagree and to maintain a leaky status quo, a “new normal.” Not coincidentally, relations on this issue between the ASEAN claimants and between ASEAN and China are more or less at the same place.
Taiwan’s interests and role in the South China Sea disputes have essentially been officially ignored. With the election of US President Donald Trump and appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor, its influence and involvement may increase substantially.
There is a growing protest over Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to downplay the Philippines international arbitration victory over China regarding the South China Sea. Although many of his policy decisions are problematic, in this case his decision has merit.