The US is incrementally increasing its frequency and type of FONOP in the South China Sea, so as to reassure its allies of its resolve and to put the onus on China to take the risk of conflict. Employing this tactic has negative implications for its standing in the region.
Washington DC based analysts sharply criticized the policy and actions of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration regarding China’s actions in the South China Sea, reflecting the US government concern that under Duterte it is “losing” the Philippines.
In October 2018, the MoU on the feasibility study of the Muse-Mandalay railway, a part of the USD 20 billion Sino-Myanmar railway, was signed. This led to the speculation that the canceled Sino-Myanmar railway might be resumed.
The US and China are increasingly confronting each other militarily in the South China Sea. The US is deploying new undersea drones in multiple sizes and diverse payloads. China’s use of drones in the East China Sea has already raised political hackles.
The Trump administration’s concept of the “Indo-Pacific” should be placed in the context of the main strategic aims of his administration: to preserve the world primacy of the US and to prevent a strong China from displacing the US in Asia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said: “Lagging behind on the military front is lethal to the security of the country. I have read a lot on China’s modern history, and it gives me great pain whenever I come across a time when we dropped back (in military building) and fell victim to invasions”.
A robust, binding code of conduct for the South China Sea has become a “holy grail” for analysts and decision makers alike. Many have tried to find it and failed. The Blueprint for a South China Sea Code of Conduct is likely to fail to gain wide acceptance too.
The Xiangshan Forum, one of East Asia’s premier security forums, is being held in Beijing from October 24 to 26, 2018. What has attracted the attention of international observers is Pyongyang sending a delegation led by two heavyweights.