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Mark J. Valencia:
By Mark J. Valencia - 11 May 2018
Most analysts agree that China and the US are locked in a seminal long-term struggle for dominance in Asia. A new and more dangerous phase in their troubled relationship may be beginning and one window on this dynamic is their behavior in the South China Sea.
There is a growing protest over Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to downplay the Philippines international arbitration victory over China regarding the South China Sea. Although many of his policy decisions are problematic, in this case his decision has merit.
As the Western media cacophony of assertions regarding the South China Sea imbroglio approaches a crescendo, it is a good time to pause and parse some of the more common and controversial ones.
The US is trying to organize a "coalition of the willing" to interdict US listed suspect ships carrying UN-banned cargo to or from North Korea. If it fails to win support to do this from Russia and China, the US may be willing to use necessary force without UNSC approval.
In the wake of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s pilgrimage to Washington, Australia is edging ever closer to publicly choosing between China and the US in its Asia security policy. It may well become reality and with the choice comes consequences.
Gordon Chang wrote recently in the National Interest that China is “itching for a confrontation” in response to the January 17, 2018 innocent passage of the USS Hopper near Scarborough Shoal. James Holmes argued that China does not really want confrontation.
Two recent publications by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for International and Security Studies condemn China’s policies and actions in the South China Sea while ignoring the similar transgressions of the others there.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Indonesia and Vietnam in January 2018. The goal of the US strategy in Asia is to win the “great power competition” against China. However, the Trump administration seems oblivious to the US loss of soft power in the region.