Great Power Politics in the South China Sea

Oct 26, 2015 | 09:30 GMT

Chinese maritime disputes in the South China Sea
Filipino protestors carry signs decrying U.S. and Chinese South China Sea claims during a June 12 march on the Chinese consulate in Makati, Philippines. (DONDI TAWATAO/Getty Images)

(DONDI TAWATAO/Getty Images)

Forecast Highlights

  • China will continue to push the envelope in the South China Sea because controlling the waters is key to its national security strategy.
  • The United States will be limited in its ability to respond because of its concerns about escalation and because of China's nuclear capabilities.
  • Beijing will lobby Washington to keep Japan out of the dispute, but Tokyo will remain involved.

For months, Beijing and Washington have been engaged in a mounting rhetorical war over Chinese territorial claims -- and island building -- in contested waters of the South China Sea. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has cautioned the U.S. military not to exacerbate tension in the South China Sea by sailing naval vessels or flying aircraft near Chinese-held islands, many of which are located in waters also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. The Pentagon has countered that U.S. ships and aircraft will travel along any routes allowed by international law at any time and has told regional allies that it will soon conduct patrols near Chinese positions....

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