The South China Sea seven years on

Author: Michael McDevitt, CNA /  19 July 2017 /  EAF

This month seven years ago at the Hanoi ASEAN Regional Forum, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a very public, and — for the Chinese — surprising, intervention into the South China Sea (SCS) disputes. This move implicated Washington in a way that was probably unforeseen in Washington and in the region at the time. Continue reading “The South China Sea seven years on”


One Less Thing to Worry About: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Didn’t Actually Call for a Blockade of China’s South China Sea Islands

By Julian Ku /  February 7, 2017 / lawfareblog

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made comments during his confirmation hearing that alarmed many China watchers since they seemed to call for something close to a naval blockade of Chinese reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.   As I and others stated at the time the remarks came out, such a blockade would almost certainly lead to armed conflict with China.  But having looked more carefully at his testimony as well as his answers to written questions from Senator Ben Cardin, I have come to the conclusion Tillerson never meant to suggest such drastic action, at least not without some new Chinese provocation or aggression.  Continue reading “One Less Thing to Worry About: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Didn’t Actually Call for a Blockade of China’s South China Sea Islands”

China’s Complex Diplomacy and Its Challenges for the Philippines

Q & A with Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, former journalist, lecturer, and ambassador-designate to the People’s Republic of China


The root cause of the problems between the Philippines and China has to do with the territorial and maritime disputes between the two countries. There are several dimensions to these disputes: the first is the issue of territorial sovereignty and the competing claims between the two countries over Scarborough Shoal and some maritime features in the Spratlys. Continue reading “China’s Complex Diplomacy and Its Challenges for the Philippines”

Water Wars: A Mixed Week for Alliance Management

By Chris Mirasola / February 3, 2017 / Lawfareblog

James Mattis traveled to Japan and South Korea this week, his first overseas visits as Secretary of Defense. A Trump administration official said the trip was intended “for all of the people who were concerned during the campaign that then-candidate, now-president, Trump was skeptical of our alliances and was somehow going to retreat from our traditional leadership role in the region.” The North Korean nuclear threat was a focal point for Mattis’ consultations in Seoul and Tokyo.   Continue reading “Water Wars: A Mixed Week for Alliance Management”

Pacific Power: America’s Asian Alliances Beyond Burden-Sharing

by Zack Cooper / December 14, 2016 / War on the Rocks

America’s Asian allies face a predicament. Regional security threats are growing as China’s military modernization and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs continue apace. Meanwhile, some worry that President-elect Trump’s “America first” approach to foreign policy and trade could lead to a diminished U.S. role in Asia. Facing these dual challenges, U.S. allies are asking fundamental questions about their security alignments and policies. Continue reading “Pacific Power: America’s Asian Alliances Beyond Burden-Sharing”

The End of Globalism: Where China and the United States Go From Here

By Eric X. Li / December 9, 2016 / Foreign Affairs

When it rains, it pours. As the Great Recession, eurozone crisis, stalled trade deals, increased conflict between Russia and the West, electoral revolts against European political elites, and finally Brexit followed the 2008 financial meltdown, it seemed clear that globalization was running out of steam. Yet few expected that its opponents would claim the top prize—the White House—and so soon. Continue reading “The End of Globalism: Where China and the United States Go From Here”

Amid the significant media buzz and scrutiny over the arbitral tribunal’s July ruling before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) regarding disputed maritime rights in the South China Sea, which sided with the Philippines on most counts and resulted in a major legal and diplomatic defeat for China, an important but less conspicuous ruling within the PCA award document on Chinese coast guard behavior was largely overlooked by the press. The ruling, entitled “Operation of Law Enforcement Vessels in a Dangerous Manner,” sought to assess whether or not China, by the actions of its maritime law enforcement (MLE) vessels, had breached its obligations under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) by operating “in a dangerous manner causing serious risk of collision to Philippine vessels navigating in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal,” otherwise known as the Philippines’ Submission No. 13. Continue reading “The Crucial South China Sea Ruling No One Is Talking About”