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Mark J. Valencia:
By Mark J. Valencia - 23 Jun 2017
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.
By Mark J. Valencia - 08 Jun 2017
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.
An article by James Holmes of the US Naval War College in The National Interest made several false allegations regarding China’s actions and ascribed nefarious motives to its declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea.
The US flies hundreds of ISR missions every year to collect communications between the target country’s command-and-control centers and radar and weapons systems. The initial deployment of the Carl Vinson strike force was to the South China Sea. Are these probes and the deployment a violation of the UN Charter?
Some US and foreign media have used the information to convince the Trump administration that China presents an imminent threat to US interests in the South China Sea. But the burgeoning drumbeat for the US to confront China should be considered with a healthy dose of skepticism.
If negotiations resulted in a “freeze” in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and a lowering of the risk of war, South Korea and Japan would probably be better off than living under constant threat. To obtain this concession from North Korea, the US would have to make genuine compromises.