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Mark J. Valencia:
By Mark J. Valencia - 14 Aug 2017
For 70 years the United States has dominated Southeast Asia with both hard and soft power. While its hard power is still dominant and may even grow, its soft power seems to have declined. This decrease is both absolute and relative to that of China.
By Mark J. Valencia - 30 Jul 2017
Joseph Bosco’s critique of China’s actions in the South China Sea, the Obama administration’s response and other issues raises the fundamental questions of the purpose and necessity of Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea.
US FONOPs in the South China Sea are controversial. Their targeting of China’s “excessive” claims there, their resumption under President Donald Trump, and China’s increasingly strident objections raise questions regarding their intent, effectiveness and necessity.
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.