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Mark J. Valencia:
By Mark J. Valencia - 30 Jul 2017
From August 2-8, 2017, ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners, including rivals China and the United States, will have a series of key security meetings in the Philippines. Casting a shadow upon these meetings will be recent developments regarding the South China Sea.
By Mark J. Valencia - 12 Jul 2017
The first FONOP under the Trump administration occurred in late May 2017, when the USS Dewey made a non-innocent passage within 12 nm of Mischief Reef. It raised questions as to the purpose and effectiveness of US FONOPs in the South China Sea.
The outlines of the Trump administration’s policy toward China and the South China Sea are emerging from a fog of confusing and contradictory statements and actions. It is beginning to look more or less like a continuation of that of the Obama administration, with some new twists.
Lost amid the recent cacophony of nationalist rhetoric regarding the disputes in the South China Sea have been calls for the claimants to agree to set aside part of the area for environmental preservation. This suggestion is both idealistic and unrealistic.
Defense ministers, officials and analysts flocked to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to hear the US and its allies bash China, who wisely sent a relatively low-level delegation. Lost in the bluster and bravado were fundamental questions regarding the strategic future of Asia.
A recent China-ASEAN agreement for a “framework” for a South China Sea Code of Conduct has triggered an outburst of diplomatic optimism. But the sad reality is that there has been little progress towards a binding, robust COC.
It appears that Trump has paused criticism and actions against China in exchange for its assistance in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program. This transactional approach means that his foreign policy is negotiable and not based on principles.
US President Donald Trump’s flip-flopping policy regarding China’s claims and actions in the South China Sea have fundamental implications for the security paradigm in the region and perhaps beyond.